Capsule Movie Review: Mean Creek (2004)

“When a small town kid gets beat up by a school bully, his brother and his friends decide to teach the bully a lesson.” It sounds like the plot to an afterschool special. When the prank goes tragically awry, it starts to sounds like a coming-of-age melodrama. I think this film actually comes somewhere in between. The best thing about it is how naturally the situations and the characters are portrayed. When the kids are talking and horsing around, they sound like I remember my friends and schoolmates sounding at that age: young, carefree, childish, insecure, and innocent. Being so drawn into reliving the essence of that age makes the impact much stronger as things take a dark turn—you can feel the innocence slipping away. I didn’t feel like these characters are making choices or acting a certain way just to move us the moral of the story. Instead I felt the tragedy, guilt, grief and loss as they were feeling it. Mean Creek may seem all about the kids, but it’s really a haunting afterschool special for grown-ups. (3.5 out of 5)

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