Friday, August 29, 2014

"The Kings of Summer" with (2013)

This is the “new” coming of age film. It is a bit different than the innocence depicted in films such as “Stand by Me”, but in spite of that, the film is a pretty accurate reflection of today’s teenage perception of what it means to “become a man.”

The film depicts the reasons behind the decision by 3 teenagers to leave home and set up on their own over the summer. The three all have different issues with their families and the lure to be on their own is very strong. So, when 15 year old Joe; played by Nick Robinson; approaches his 2 buddies with his idea about building a home of their own in a clearing in the woods, they are ready to listen.

Joe lost his mother to illness a few years earlier and his relationship with his Dad is adversarial at best. Complicating things is the presence of a new woman in his Dad’s life; a relationship he refuses to acknowledge.

Joe has a severe crush on Kelly; played by Elin Moriarty; who is already in a relationship with some guy named Paul. After seeing her at school and being humiliated by her boyfriend Joe heads for home accompanied by his strange friend Biaggio; played by Moises Arias. Biaggio claims to be asexual. When the two cut through the woods on the way home they discover the spot where Joe decides that they should build a house. Joe wants his friend Patrick; played by Gabriel Basso; to join them.

Patrick has an array of survivalist books from which the trio makes plans to build their home. They pilfer materials wherever they can find them, dragging everything into the woods and actually building their home. Shortly after it is finished the three boys move in to begin their new lives.

Thinking that the boys have been kidnapped the town is searching for them frantically. The police know better; since the boys took money and tools from their parent’s homes when they left. It’s just a question of where they went.

The boys are learning that living off the land; while sounding appetizing; is not as easy as it appears. They find a small grocery store from which they are able to count on fresh meat each day, and so that becomes their main source of food. Hunting, fishing and cooking have proven too difficult for them.

As the days go by Joe misses Kelly more and more, and so makes arrangements for her to come visit them in the woods. She brings a friend along. Kelly has broken up with her boyfriend and Joe is still smitten with her. He is hoping that when she sees all that he has accomplished she will become his girlfriend. But instead she is attracted to Patrick and the two slip away together. This event causes Joe to have a sort of meltdown, which breaks down the bond between the 2 friends. Patrick destroys a portion of the house he helped to build and leaves. Biaggio wants to stay but Joe sends him away also. Now he is truly alone.

The police question Biaggio and Patrick; with Biaggio turning out to be the strongest of the two. He tells the police nothing. Joe, meantime, has run out of money to buy chickens at the food store and begins to actually hunt. He captures and kills a rabbit, but feels so badly about it that he cannot eat it. It has now been over a month since the boys left home, and Joe is the only one unaccounted for.

At this point Kelly tells Joe’s father about the secret location of the house and they head there to get Joe. The ending of the film involves a poisonous snake and a heroic act by Joe, which earns him the respect of his father. And although Kelly and Joe remain only friends, he comes away with a new understanding of himself, his father and life in general.

A very ethereal film in some respects, with intense acting on the part of all the principal players, this film illuminates the never changing angst of growing up.

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