Thursday, February 06, 2014

Sonic Cinema Reviews TROUBLE

Trouble (Short) (2013): B+

Isaac (Bennett Kirschner) is a student at the St. Sebastian’s Quiet Academy for Disreputable Youth, where the main focus of study is the idea of character. The problem for Isaac is, he doesn’t have any. He goes through the motions in class; is scolded by the headmaster; and has a penchant for getting into fights, especially with the fellow student he does scenes about character with in class. Isaac has no use for the school, and doesn’t want to stay there. Unfortunately for him, the more he acts out, the more they try and keep him there so he can learn about character. Talk about a Catch-22.

The thing I need to point out in reviewing this short from writer-director Danny Witkin is how the picture for the film was jittery throughout; I looked at a few other reviews of the film to see if anyone else pointed it out, and they hadn’t, so it was a matter of a technical glitch with the presentation online, I’m guessing. This is Witkin’s thesis film from his time at Wesleyan University, so that may want to be looked in to, but it doesn’t distract too much from the focused, wryly amusing narrative unfolding in the film’s 12 minutes. Witkin’s story seemed, to me, to be about a rebellious spirit acting out when the system appears to shut him down; to society as a whole, that might seem like a lack of character (and admittedly, Isaac doesn’t always show character in his choices), but when we feel like the system is trying to hold us down, and break our spirit, rebellion is the highest form of character. That doesn’t mean Isaac doesn’t have a lot to learn still (although watching it a second time, maybe Isaac has more character than he’s given credit for), but if I were at St. Sebastian’s Quiet Academy for Disreputable Youth, I’d probably be finding a way to escape, as well.

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