"Do You Know Who Your Kids Are?"
12 and Holding (15)
Dir. Michael Cuesta
Reviewed by Matt Adcock
…the concrete broke your fall
to hear you speak of it
I'd have done anything
I would do anything…
You ever watch a film not knowing at all what to expect?
I’d heard good things about 12 and Holding director Michael Cuesta – he’s done some great work on the TV shows Dexter and Six Feet Under, and thanks to the joys of LOVEFILM, this week 12 and Holding dropped through my letterbox.
Having just watched it, I’m still reeling; REM’s ‘Why Not Smile?’ - which the film ends with – is just playing out. Quite simply a stunning little movie, excellently observed and featuring some of the best kid performances I’ve seen for long time. Even though 12 and Holding deals with some very hard issues, I’d say this is a must see for parents / guardians / anyone who works with children… The best film I’ve seen that encompasses perfectly the pre-teen angst that I can remember feeling at about that age… You remember? It’s a time when your parents still treat you like a child, but you feel like you’re growing up in a different world to them…
The plot sees brothers Rudy and Jacob, torn apart and the caustic fallout that ripples waves of unrest through their tight couple of friends when one of them is killed. We travel with the surviving Jacob who bears a massive birth mark on his face and has always felt that his parents loved his brother more, overweight kid Leonard who is trapped in a no hope lardtastic household and Malee, a young girl who desperately misses her absent father and who develops a dangerous crush on a much older guy named Gus (Jeremy Renner), who has issues of his own…
There are certainly echoes of other films in this genre Mean Creek or Lawn Dogs are two good examples, but 12 and Holding forges it’s own bittersweet path.
The dialogue crackles with wit and poignant believability. E.g. one of the opening scenes between the brothers sets the tone well:
Rudy: Our birthday comes once a year and you ask for a hockey mask. You don't even play.
Jacob: Jason from Friday the 13th wears one. He's bad-ass.
Conor Donovan who plays both brothers is superb, Jesse Camacho is Leonard, possibly the best ‘fat kid character’ ever to hit the screen and Zoë Weizenbaum who plays the precocious Malee nails her tricky role with aplomb.
12 and Holding is a film that should makes you reassess what the children you know might be thinking, might be struggling with…
Made me want to go and give my two sons a hug, and tell them that I'm here for them no matter what... and maybe just maybe I'll be a better parent for having watched this? Will get back to you on that.
Out of 5 you have to go with a heartbreaking 4.5 (we've all been there)...
Darkmatters ratings :
Action ööö – You've been sad for a while
Laughs ööö – Bleak humour from the edge
Horror ööö – Enough to unnerve
Babes öö – Not really
Overall öööö1/2 (powerful stuff, fantastically made)
"coming-of-age can be a complicated experience"
Darkmatters: H O M E
Why Not Smile