Thursday, August 3, 2017

Movie with Abe: Some Freaks

Some Freaks
Directed by Ian MacAllister McDonald
Released August 4, 2017

There are a number of films and television shows that exist which seek to reclaim the traditional definition of “freak” or “misfit.” Often these productions tackle the subject from a comic lens, portraying those who couldn’t possibly be seen as normal or like others around them as the heroes because of just how endearing they are despite the circumstances thrown at them, in addition to whatever personality trait or physical quality makes them an outcast from society. The new film “Some Freaks” shows that it can be equally effective, if not even more so, to show the resilience of those who can never be popular in a dramatic yet lightly entertaining way.

Things are not pleasant in high school for Matt (Thomas Mann) and Jill (Lily Mae Harrington). Matt, who wears an eye patch due to the fact that he’s missing one eye, is chased around school as bullies try to steal the patch and demand to see what’s underneath. Jill is perceived as overweight and not trying at all to conform to any sense of normalcy with other aspects of her appearance, and when one unkind girl accidentally knocks her books down in the hallway, she declines to insult Jill because she deems it too easy. Thanks in part to their mutual friend Elmo (Ely Henry), they meet and realize how much they like each other.

Watching the relationship between Matt and Jill bloom is enormously interesting, and what defines it – and the problems they encounter later – is that neither of them can fathom a world in which someone doesn’t see their outsiderness right away. They see any form of genuine compliment or legitimate question as a practical joke just waiting to play itself out, and push many people away as a result. When college comes around, neither of them is ready for the real world or, more importantly, how they change as they adapt to it and find what works for them.

This is a sweet story, one that isn’t obsessed with a neat finish or happy ending and succeeds very well as a result. Director Ian MacAllister McDonald has earned numerous accolades from small film festivals for this film, and rightly so. Mann presents a portrait of a teenager almost unwilling to be happy, while Harrington, a true find who got her start on “The Glee Project,” is a revelation as Jill, making her a layered, dynamic protagonist hardly ready for the challenges of the world. This small film is a resounding hit, one that should be seen much more widely than it’s likely to be.


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