When I recorded this movie on my TiVo, I had no idea what I was getting into. Two minutes in, I stopped it, and started it over from the beginning because I knew this was going to be a movie I wanted to pay attention to. This is an intense and hard-hitting look into the lives of three teenage boys sentenced to a youth correctional facility.
This drama starts off with a bang (literally), with a vulgar juvenile sex scene- full of pimples, cursing, and drugs. We are introduced to Davis- a self-proclaimed womanizer and hustler sentenced for possession of narcotics with intent to sell. And then there is Angel, a quiet recidivist with a penchant for auto theft. And Butch, angry and aggressive, convicted of assaulting a correctional officer at another facility. The three boys arrive at the unit at the same time and are introduced to Officer Goodyear (fitting name), who is in charge of their dorm.
As I watched this, I couldn’t take notes fast enough. There is a lot I like about this film. This is the second feature film of young French director, Kim Chapiron. I realized, after a little investigating, that he is also the director of Sheitan. Sheitan is a French horror film that is absolutely on the top of my list. It has everything- startling moments, good gore, and a great plot coupled with very dark humor. But I digress.
There is no sugar-coating in this movie. The boys deal with some incredible abuse by fellow inmates and aggression by ruling officers. Officer Goodyear’s story takes a depressing and unexpected turn as well. It is so frightening because this could be a true portrayal of boys’ correctional facilities. I jumped at the unflinching, extreme violence and wanted to close my eyes at the intensely graphic scenes. These unknown actors did an incredible job for such physically demanding roles.
It’s hard to put my finger on the reason this isn’t an entirely successful film. I thoroughly enjoyed it but I feel like where this film is lacking is emotion. It is so cold and violent. This is not for the mainstream- probably one of the reasons why I had never heard of it. And to top it off, this definitely does not have a happy ending. I’m all for a dark and shocking ending, but this caught me off-guard and left me breathless. This film does a fantastic job of creating a harrowing portrait of chaos, humiliation, and the breakdown of the human soul. Smartly, the director added a couple wonderful scenes of humor that actually made me laugh out loud, but this film is not for the faint of heart.
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