Sensitive, somewhat effeminate farm-boy Duncan Mudge can barely cope with grim, since Ma's death even gloomier father Edgar's manly expectations, and seeks comfort in petting a chicken he ...
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Sensitive, somewhat effeminate farm-boy Duncan Mudge can barely cope with grim, since Ma's death even gloomier father Edgar's manly expectations, and seeks comfort in petting a chicken he associates with his late Ma. Macho mate Perry Foley, who has it physically even harder on his dad's farm, usually comforts Duncan and defends his 'wimpiness' to their cocky ruffian mates Travis, Scotty and Brent. But although clearly attracted to gentle gentile Ducan himself, the socially unacceptable suggestion of 'sissy' homosexuality makes Perry over-react and turn on his friend. Written by
Michael Burke developed the screenplay for the film at a Sundance Labs in 2000. Burke says of inspiration for the film: "Growing up in rural Vermont, I wanted to tell a story about a kid too sensitive for the harsh environment in which he was raised." See more »
I got to give this film a chance. There's a story told, and it is very strong, I know. It could be seen as gay, stupid, mean. Yes, the movie is extremely mean and that makes it difficult to watch. You have this quiet, interesting kid, and then all the jerks; hanging out drinking beer, having sex. These are the type of relationships Duncan (Emile Hirsch) had never thought about until they arrived.
The movie makes a great job in narrating the two sides of the story. Duncan's mom died; the boy is living with his cold, severe father, Edgar (Richard Jenkins). Duncan remains unnoticed all the time; he spends the hours by himself. Sometimes he rides his bicycle, just to get out a little bit, or plays with his chicken. This chicken, together with many of the things (a sweater, a lamp) Duncan has, belonged to his mother: "It was her favorite", he says later when a girl asks about it. Edgar, otherwise, is hiding his pain, but why? He loved his wife but now has a boy to take care of. Maybe Edgar is scared to see Duncan suffering because of his wife's death. Maybe Edgar doesn't even want to take care about Duncan, although he seems to be doing an effort. When they both sat at the table for dinner (prepared by Duncan), the boy asks his father about his day: "It was fine", Edgar answers. Then Duncan asks about the food: "Ok", his father says. After this, Duncan starts talking to himself, asking questions about his day, just because his father hasn't asked him about it. This is the relationship they handle. Eventually, Duncan will start working for his father: "You're strong boy", Edgar says. But is he? The other side shows to us the relationship Duncan creates with the other boys, the ones I couldn't call friends, and the problems he has with them. He wants to get along, we can see. Even more when he meets Perry (Tom Guiry), and starts buying beer and going out at night with elder people. His father is being good about it because he knows that Duncan could use some friendship. But then Duncan is stealing alcohol from his father for them. They all go to a party, and some people start to bother Duncan: "Chicken boy, chicken boy". Perry gets angry and punches them. Duncan can't believe it. He likes Perry, they are probably friends, but does he like Perry in another way? Is Duncan gay? Is this a question we should ask to ourselves? Probably, because Duncan and Perry experience things together. You could know Perry wanted to do it, to try something different, or to teach some sex lessons to Duncan; the boy with no experience (touching his own nipples in his bed). All of these could be.
Emile Hirsch is a very good actor. I have seen him in all of his movies, except for "Imaginary Heroes". He trapped me in "The Emperor's Club" and in "The girl Next Door". Great acting jobs, in not great movies. Here he is just great (again), with all of his weird faces. He is weird; also calm and gentle. Many things. Richard Jenkins is superb, in showing what I named "silent emotion". Very interesting how a man can feel very much, but say very little. Tom Guiry is the one that steals the show in the end. He is brave and risky, as no other young actor. He says his lines so strongly that they get to you, just as in "Mystic River".
And of course, we can't forget the creator of the whole project; because this is an indie gem. Michael Burke wrote a beautiful and real script. He directed his actors so naturally that everything seemed perfect. His editor also did a hell of a job putting all those still shots together. Very good film-making (I love still shots).
When the film ends, we could feel like there is something missing, something unsolved. But anyway: is there anything else to solve?
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