COMEDY YOUTH IN REVOLT (15) 90min ●●●●●
Alongside Adventureland star Jesse Eisenberg, Michael Cera has cornered the market over the last few years when it comes to playing the thoughtful, mildly nerdish boy-next-door. Be it in juvenile comedy (Superbad), adolescent angst-drama (Juno) or a self- conscious splicing of the two (Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist). It’s an archetype he’s essayed expertly, if a little too often. Thus, it’s rather unfortunate that Miguel Arteta’s long-delayed Youth In Revolt (which was shot in 2008) finally arrives in cinemas. In the wake of its predecessors, this coming-of-age comedy feels overly familiar – which is a shame for Cera, who is quite superb as both a sensitive, sex-obsessed virgin and his rebellious alter ego.
Adapted from the 1993 novel by CD Payne, Cera plays the teenage Nick Twisp, who lives with his trailer-trash mother (Jean Smart) and her slob of a boyfriend (The Hangover’s Zach Galifianakis). On a family holiday, to the less-than-appealing Restless Axles trailer park, Nick meets the beguiling Sheeni (Portia Doubleday) and falls instantly head-over-heels.
But with their union short-lived, Sheeni urges Nick to misbehave and get kicked out of his mother’s house so he can move in with his nearby father (Steve Buscemi). This he manages spectacularly, albeit with some help from his psyche, which conjures up Francois Dillinger (also Cera), a mustachioed Wayfarer-wearing Frenchman inspired by Jean-Paul Belmondo. The first feature directed by Arteta since The Good
Girl, his 2002 tale of a store clerk seeking a better life, in truth Youth In Revolt feels more like a blend of Terry Zwigoff’s Ghost World and Ken Loach’s Looking For Eric than any of the recent Cera-starring teen films. Of course, it follows a formula – with kids all given acerbic, all-knowing dialogue while the adults are but dullards (whether its Sheeni’s God-fearing parents or Ray Liotta’s brutish cop). But, with Cera leading the way, there’s real charm to the piece. It may not touch The Catcher in the Rye when it comes to capturing teen angst, but Youth In Revolt is nevertheless destined for cultdom – not just among today’s more discerning teenagers but with those for whom adolescence is but a fond memory. (James Mottram). ■ General release from Fri 5 Feb.
DRAMA A SINGLE MAN (12A) 99min ●●●●●
Tom Ford, the fashion industry’s Dorian Gray, adapts Christopher Isherwood’s spare, lyrical study of alienation and loss for his film debut (as director and screenwriter). A Single Man traces a day in the life of George Falconer (Colin Firth), a middle-aged English college professor, exiled to Southern California. A series of flashbacks outlines George’s 16-year relationship with the recently deceased Jim (Matthew Goode).
Ford’s film is a frustrating experience. At times achingly moving, particularly in the scenes of everyday domesticity between George and Jim, it also relies too heavily on redundant visual gimmicks. At one point George parks his car in front of a huge, blown-up poster of Janet Leigh in Psycho. It’s a showy gesture worthy of Almodóvar, but it’s an unnecessary distraction from the meat of the film, which is George’s gradual journey away from despair.
More annoying is the director’s constant switching between colour tones, from a
washed-out hue to warmer shades at moments of clarity or epiphany.
A more seasoned filmmaker would have had the confidence to rely on this movie’s greatest asset – its lead actor – in conveying these complex emotional shifts. Firth succeeds in communicating all the pain and loneliness of a broken heart with an incredibly subtle, nuanced performance, and it’s this that resonates long after the film has finished. (Allan Radcliffe) ■ Selected release from Fri 12 Feb. See preview, page 46.
ALSO RELEASED The Princess and the Frog (U) 97min ●●●●● Disney’s first hand drawn animation since 2004’s Home on the Range reunites the considerable talents of John Musker and Ron Clements (The Little Mermaid, Aladdin) for an enjoyably lightweight variation on the Grimm brothers fairy tale The Frog Prince. Set in 1920s Louisiana and featuring Disney’s first African-American Princess, this culturally important, beautiful and evocative (of a New Orleans that no longer exists) film may not have the stand-out musical numbers of some of its stable mates but is an old fashioned treat all the same. General release from Fri 5 Feb. Oil City Confidential (15) 111min ●●●●● Following on from The Filth and the Fury and The Future is Unwritten, this is the alleged third part of Julien Temple’s documentary punk trilogy. Temple goes back to punk’s evolution by revisiting Dr Feelgood — the Canvey Island rockers whose raw primitivism paved the way for the punk agenda. Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 5-Sun 7 Feb. My Name is Khan (tbc) tbcmin (unable to review at press time) Romantic Hindi melodrama getting larger than normal distribution starring Bollywood megastars Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol. Khan plays a Muslim man with Asperger’s who decides to follow his estranged betrothed across America when they run in to trouble after 9/11. Will be reviewed at www.list.co.uk Selected release from Thu 11 Feb. Valentine’s Day (12A) 124min (unable to review at press time) Romantic comedy intertwining stories that take place over the course of one Valentine’s Day. Top notch cast includes Julia Roberts, Ashton Kutcher, Jessica Alba, Jennifer Garner and Anne Hathaway. Garry Pretty Woman Marshall directs. Will be reviewed at www.list.co.uk General release from Fri 12 Feb. The Wolfman (15) 102min (unable to review at press time) Remake of classic 1941 horror film starring Benicio Del Toro, Anthony Hopkins and Emily Blunt. Will be reviewed at www.list.co.uk General release from Fri 12 Feb. Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief (PG) 118min (unable to review at press time) Big screen adaptation of Rick Riordan’s first fantasy adventure novel featuring Greek mythology baiting child Percy Jackson. Brandon T Jackson, Steve Coogan and Uma Thurman star. Chris Columbus directs. Possible franchise? We think so. Will be reviewed at www.list.co.uk General release from Fri 12 Feb.
4–18 Feb 2010 THE LIST 49