Pip is a street kid who's meeting life head-on in the big city. On his eighteenth birthday he receives his grandfather's Second World War memoirs on audio cassette, a gift that awakens the ... See full summary »
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Pip is a street kid who's meeting life head-on in the big city. On his eighteenth birthday he receives his grandfather's Second World War memoirs on audio cassette, a gift that awakens the ghost of the long lost world. His grandfather relates the story of the day he turned eighteen, fleeing German forces through the woods of France with a dying comrade hanging on for life. In Pip's own and contemporary way, he begins to live the parallel life of his grandfather, both lost in their environments and generations. Along Pip's path he stumbles into an unlikely alliance with Clark, a gay street hustler on the make, and Jenny, an aspiring social worker who tempts Pip with feelings of love and domesticity. He also forges a small but important relationship with a local priest, in whom he confides his deepest secret: the death of his brother and the heinous act his father committed against him before his passing. Written by
Complex emotional "vortex" of a film is a worthy effort, but ...
"Eighteen" (2004) tells the story of Pip Anders, a depressed and extremely cynical young man who is estranged from his dysfunctional upper/middle class family and living on the streets of Vancouver. On his 18th birthday, he receives a cassette tape and player from his recently-deceased grandfather, relating his memoirs of his own 18th birthday, spent serving with the British army in France, trying to help a mortally-wounded comrade avoid capture by the occupying Germans. As Pip listens to the tape (Ian McKellen provided the voice of his grandfather), we see the scenes he is describing as flashbacks, alternating with daily scenes of Pip's life, as well as more recent flashbacks filling in the dark secret why Pip left home and finds it impossible to trust anyone who is nice to him.
An ambitious second film from writer/director Richard Bell ("Two Brothers"), with a polished look, excellent photography, well-developed non-stereotypical characters (with gay and straight treated equally), and commendable efforts in emotionally and physically-demanding roles from some talented new actors (especially Paul Anthony as Pip and Brendan Fletcher as his grandfather at 18). There is also a noteworthy turn by Alan Cummings as a priest who tried to help Pip, and a small supporting role played by Thea Gill ("Queer As Folk"). The complex story - in the director's own words in his DVD commentary - is meant to drive a "vortex of emotion" pushing Pip to his breaking point, and it certainly accomplishes that. My only criticisms are that the overall effect is too "schmaltzy" or artificial for an audience to truly identify with, much of the supporting dialog (and the ending) too contrived and predictable, and the direction needed to be sharper to curtail sloppy overacting in some scenes. I do recommend it, 7 stars out of 10, including extra points for a noteworthy effort.
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