Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Vicious Kind (2008)

This has all the earmarks of an indie movie, because, of course, thats what it is. It threatens to be overwhelmed by the sort of indie cliches that pop up so very often, but the performances are so good, particular from Adam Scott and J.K. Simmons that it never topples over. I also happen to like that it is set in a small town in Connecticut in the Winter, around Thanksgiving time to be exact. The story centers around Caleb, played by Adam Scott, who is, not to put too fine a point on it, an asshole, but his terrible attitude stems from a recent breakup and....a family secret that he has been carrying around for eight years. Until about the last part of this I really thought this would end like so many indie movies with nothing resolved, and it only playing like the first act to a familial tragedy. Yet in the very end, while, for part of the cast it might not be perfect, but for the other two, the father and son, there looks like there might be a step forward and a breakthrough. I have to admit, I liked that. I liked the fact that, as written, J.K. Simmons and Adam Scott, the estranged father and son, are more alike then they care to admit, and thats probably part of the problem. And those two, probably more so than Brittany Snow and Alex Frost as the brother and the girlfriend, are really good here. Sure, they are playing variations on characters they have already established, the unrepentant asshole and the out-there father, here they play it dramatically and I think they are really really good. This was written and directed by Lee Toland Krieger, who is like 24 years old, and it definitely feels like something a 24 year old would write and make. And thats not necessarily a bad thing, I would like to see what he does in the future. Because this looks really good, even if the story isn't the best in the world, I liked the setting (the cold Northeast is always fitting for these sorts of familial dramas). There's one dolly shot in particular, thats not too long, of Adam Scott rushing out of a bowling alley that I found pretty impressive. So the acting saves this one, I think, in the end.

On a sidenote that has nothing to do with anything besides the fact that this was set in the chilly, Northeast. I have been reading The Secret History by Donna Tartt, and have been wondering 1) Why has no one made that into a movie. Small colleges dotting the New England landscape have to be ripe for a lot of things-drama and horror being right up there. I mean look at what Lovecraft did. And 2) I guess my number 2 was in there but yeah, like The Vicious Kind why not more films set in the Northeast, I feel like its ripe for these kinds of things, the Northeastern mentality and all, and hasn't been used to its full potential. Even watching Jaws the other night, and this might also be because of the good writing, I was thinking of this watching the cast of colorful characters, many who seemed uniquely New England, who filled out the town/island of Amity. Of course, it would probably take someone from the area to get it exactly right, I suppose, but that goes without saying.

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