Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Mean Creek (2004)

A Film Review

Copyright Dragan Antulov 2005

One of the most annoying traits of modern Hollywood is in the trailers and their tendency to tell audience every important detail of the movies' plots. This phenomenon can affect both top Hollywood blockbusters and independent dramas. One of the examples of the latter is the trailer for MEAN CREEK, 2004 drama written and directed by Jacob Aaron Estes.

The plot of the film begins with Sam (played by Rory Culkin) being mercilessly bullied at school by George (played by Josh Peck), fat dyslexic who failed grade twice and uses his size to intimidate other pupils. When Sam complains about it to his older brother Rocky (played by Trevor Morgan), they devise a plan to lure George to a boat trip with other boys and then "teach him a lesson" through cruel practical joke. On the trip George reveals completely unknown and much more pleasant side of his character, so Sam has second thoughts and wants the "lesson" to be called off. But circumstances and characters conspire to end idyllic afternoon in tragedy.

Even those who haven't seen the trailer would find the plot of MEAN CREEK to be somewhat predictable. More disappointing is the plot's sudden and somewhat un-cathartic resolution. However, MEAN CREEK depends more on characters than plot, and this is where Jacob Aaron Estes' script and direction excel. Good camera work, idyllic Oregon locations and brilliant pacing are well-matched by the superb acting of young actors. Josh Peck had the most difficult task - he had to portray the character who was most obnoxious at the beginning only to garner sympathy at the end. Other actors were also very good, especially Rory Culkin and Carly Schroeder in a roles of young people forced to face difficult moral dilemmas young people were not supposed to face. Despite having some scenes that are very powerful in the less pleasant way, MEAN CREEK deserves recommendation as an example of everything that is good in American independent cinema.

RATING: 6/10 (++)


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