Old Boys

Your cake was disgusting!

Year Released : 2019

Director : Toby MacDonald

Cast : Alex Lawther, Jonah Hauer-King, Pauline Etienne and Denis Menochet

So with a broken laptop (again!) I haven’t really been keeping up to date with my film reviews, mainly because there aren’t really that many truly small films that I have access to at the moment for a variety of reasons. Fortunately for me, one film got realised in my native UK at the weekend and I can say with a certain level of confidence that it will stay pretty small.

Long term readers will know that I don’t particularly like reviewing movies that are currently out at the cinema, but I feel slightly justified in this one because it has only been released at a single cinema, and been put in a screen that only has around 50 seats. The chances of this suddenly bursting into being well known is slim, at best.

I first became aware of this movie when I bought a DVD recently and this was one of those trailers you get on before you get to the menu, so when I saw it was getting a cinema release, I made my way to London

Plot

Amberson (Lawther) is an unpopular kid at school, excelling at education, but failing in every other aspect of life. One day he is bringing water back from a well when he meets Agnes (Etienne), a French girl who has just moved to the area as her father Babinot (Menochet) has just started working at the school. He is immediately infatuated with her, but she soon falls for fellow student Winchester (Hauer-King), and she wants to start a correspondence with him.

Not knowing a lot about the ways of romancing a girl, Winchester convinces Amberson to help him, but this soon becomes a very awkward love triangle, especially when the school starts to slowly realise what is happening.

Was it worth the trip?

Throughout the last few years I’ve had a few films on this site that have started off relatively slowly, but then got going, “Their Finest” coming straight to mind, but this is the complete opposite. There were a few moments early on where I was genuinely enjoying it, such as Amberson stood motionless as a ball comes towards him, ending up smacking him straight in the face and him falling over (typical British humour might I add), and I thought that this would be an eventual top ten for the year contender.

After that moment the film died and plodded in a monotone and uninteresting way to the end, and what is made worse is that the ending is completely unfulfilling. I’m already not convinced by the feelings that Amberson has for Agnes, let alone her complete lack of a personality, but then the way it ends made me question “what was the point in all of that?”

The best character, by a country mile, is Winchester, but even then that is faint praise as Jonah Hauer-King, whilst likeable, at this stage doesn’t seem to have a lot of range, but I would gladly take him over the frankly bland Pauline Etienne any day. His performance, in many ways, reminded me of one of Ryan Gosling’s earlier performances from “Remember the Titans”, where you like him, but it is one where you will struggle to remember long term.

Alex Lawther is just as painfully bland, sticking to the awkward teen gimmick that he has become typecast for in recent years, without ever really giving a performance that you could describe as anything more then “he was there”.

As well as all of this, it is hard to place when this movie takes place as there are a lot of older technologies on display, such as video tapes, old style landline phones and older generation cars, but this is countered by several modern technologies being seen throughout, even if they’re not obvious.

Summary

“Old Boys” starts off well, but quickly falls into being utterly bland and forgettable. There is precisely nothing noteworthy or praiseworthy about the movie and it can best be described as “it was there”. This won’t be in my bottom ten come the end of the year, but it won’t be far above.

The cast is completely forgettable, with Pauline Etienne being one of the least interesting romantic interests I’ve seen in a long time, not because of the character itself, but rather Etienne’s lack of charisma.

If you want to watch a decent film about British school kids from recent times, go with “Tormented” or “Anna and the Apocalypse”, not this.

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