Keith Gordon, after 10 years of appearing in front of the camera (ALL THAT JAZZ, CHRISTINE), made his directing debut at age 27 with this dark, dazzling film in the tradition of IF... and LORD OF THE FLIES. Working from his own adaptation of Robert Cormier's novel, Gordon uses an inventive
narrative technique and stylish visuals to tell the story of a teenager who takes a stand against an oppressive system but, in so doing, ends up playing the system's game.
Set at Trinity, a Catholic boys' high school, the film revolves around 15-year-old Mitchell-Smith, the "new kid." He comes to the attention of Ward and Hutchison, two members of the Vigils, the school's secret society of bullies, and sadistic, pointer-wielding instructor Glover, who moves from the
classroom to the principal's office when the school's headmaster takes ill. Glover is also in charge of the school's annual chocolate sale and hopes to impress the board of trustees by selling twice as many boxes of sweets as he did the year before. With assistance from the bullying Vigils, Glover
nearly achieves his goal--the only student not fulfilling his quota is Mitchell-Smith, who refuses in order to prove something to himself.
With much of his film's direction dictated by dream logic, Gordon uses an arresting visual style to immerse the viewer in Mitchell-Smith's world. Despite his limited budget, the writer-director presents an array of memorable images. Mitchell-Smith's character is not as well developed as we might
want it to be (though much can be inferred from his dreams). Still--aided by strong performances by Adam Baldwin, Ward, and Glover--Gordon has created a deeply involving film. It has much to tell us, not just about a particular adolescent challenge, but also about the difficulty of nonconformity
and how easily means and ends become confused.
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- Released: 1988
- Rating: R
- Review: Keith Gordon, after 10 years of appearing in front of the camera (ALL THAT JAZZ, CHRISTINE), made his directing debut at age 27 with this dark, dazzling film in the tradition of IF... and LORD OF THE FLIES. Working from his own adaptation of Robert Cormier… (more)