Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Azazel Jacobs for GreenCine a few years ago, around the time his then-new film Mama's Man made its theatrical debut, even though I was not over-awed with the movie, I found Jacobs an absolutely terrific, insightful, energetic and enjoyable young man (that interview is here). And I couldn't help but wonder where his career might go and what he would do next. With TERRI, we now know: This is his best, most accessible and vital work yet.
Ken Jacobs) could be called "outsider," yet Azazel seems, as a filmmaker and a man, about as comfortable in his skin and shoes as anyone could possibly be.
Never Let Me Go to something as innocuous and fun as Mean Girls, the genre is by now a staple of our movie-going life. In Terri, Jacobs takes all the clichés of the genre but, rather than simply gussying them up, pares thme down to the bone and, along with his splendid cast and a fine and simple screenplay by newcomer Patrick Dewitt, reimagines them with immense feeling, wit and the specificity of the odd.
Creed Bratton, above) to the old, falling down and-secluded-in-the-forest house that the pair inhabit to that near-enchanted forest itself, through which Terri must travel to get to school -- everything here has been arranged by the filmmaker to seem both very strange and absolutely real: an odd but wonderfully workable combination. Mice, an enormous hawk, schoolmates who tease and hurt, and a vice principal (played with gruff/tender strength by John C. Reilly, below, right) intent on reaching this problemed young man -- they all have their part in the movie's quietly entrancing plan.
Cyrus, in which he plays opposite an overweight boy. As good as was Cyrus, Terri is even better. Despite its weirdness, it is less manipulative, effecting its gradual, one might even say, minimal changes with honor and difficulty. This is not one of those movies in which the fellow we root for goes from zero to hero. We understand, even when Terri does not, that he is a long way from the former, and while he may never reach the latter, he's got a lot of living and learning left to do.
Bridger Zadina (as Chad, at right) and Olivia Crocicchia (as Heather, below). The friendship that develops among these three is full of inventive incident, surprise and (thankfully) a sensible dose of self-interest so that it remains truthful to the end. It also goes into difficult places -- drugs and sex, for instance -- in a way in which few other teens movies even get near, and certainly not in a manner this embarras-singly honest.
Jacob Wysocki (below, and in several of the photos above) is memorable. If you see this film, and I hope you do, when you think again of big boys, it's probably Jacob (and his Terri) who will first come to mind. So well do we get under his skin that we begin identifying rather miraculously. This is Jacob's and Mr. Jacobs' most wonderful gift: we are Terri, Terri is us. There is no more "other."
ATO Pictures, opens this Friday, July 1, in New York at the Lincoln Plaza Cinema and the Angelika Film Center and in California (Los Angeles, Pasadena, Irvine and Encino). Click here to see all currently scheduled playdates, cities and theaters.