ByAlan Mehanna, writer at
Lebanese American. Screenwriting MFA. Teacher. Writer. Actor. Dreamer.
Alan Mehanna

I am not one for films like this - films that leave their audience with an uneasy and uncomfortable feeling. A feeling that something was missing, that not all the answers were answered. A feeling of more questions and doubt as you leave the film. Yet, every once in a while I go and watch one of those films and hate myself for doing so afterward.

Don't get me wrong, I am not always seeking a happy ending - but I am also not a fan of feeling queasy after watching a film.

Robyn: Kids are cruel.
Simon: Kids are honest.

Actor now turned director Joel Edgerton's debut was no easy task, especially with a film in this particular genre and the fact that he played one of the leads, but he delivers. Edgerton strategically uses his camera to add on to the creepy behaviors of his character (in many ways I believe the camera in this film was in fact Gordo) and by doing this the film is always in a sense of foreboding.

Jason Bateman and Joel Edgerton both gave fantastic performances but I was a bit disappointed with Rebecca Hall. I had seen her in an HBO mini-series entitled Parade's End, where I enjoyed her performance. Bateman, who I am used to seeing in comedies, was truly fantastic in this role and is clear he gave it his all. The final sequence was just heart-wrenching. Edgerton's role in my opinion is one to be remembered. Gordon, the film's antagonist (yet that is debatable) is right up there with Hopkins' Lector, Bale's Bateman, among others.

Gordo: Good people deserve good things.

At the core, it is the film's story that is the most uncomfortable. A duel between two men - one a bully, and the other his victim. The entire film's events unfold due to Gordon's perfectly executed plan of mental assault on Simon, which ends with the most twisted checkmate. It was in fact the checkmate that I may have had the most problems with.

To have Gordon 'rape or not rape' Robyn only to mess with Simon was in my opinion a bit of a predictable ending. The high schoolers sitting in the row in front of me spoke out the ending almost fifteen minutes before it was revealed. This speaks out towards how today's audience has seen so much (or how twisted Lebanese teenagers are) and this in fact makes it a challenge to today's writers when trying to create unpredictable endings.

I mentioned to a few of my friends that I left the film feeling uncomfortable but also like something was missing and though they explained that this is what Edgerton intended (and I wrote about that earlier) I am still uncertain whether or not I like that feeling. Films are stories with a beginning, a middle, and an end but also some sort of resolution. So what was the resolution in this film? Gordon's Revenge? Simon's Downfall? Robyn's birth? Were they all the resolution? What about the clarity of the characters' dramatic need? It was clear that Gordon wanted to ruin Simon - but what about Simon? Robyn?

Too many questions for a film, which brings me back to the types of film I enjoy. Maybe I am a sucker for a clearer resolution...maybe I am a sucker for good defeating evil...but I know that I do enjoy dark films so I am not a constant sucker for it. Maybe it was the fact that this storyline hit home due to the fact that I was horrifically bullied in high school and could relate to Gordon. But Gordon was portrayed as the antagonist, the creep, and Simon the victim - and then the tables turned as the truth came out. Could it be that the truth came out too soon and too quickly?

Again, too many questions. Questions that I unfortunately have no answers for and that bothers me.


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