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"Four", which I have just seen at the London Film Festival, is a very
good film. It's a story about awkwardness, indecision and the search
for love. It boasts excellent performances from the four leading actors
and a very good screenplay and, at a mere 75 minutes or so, is a short
film. Despite its relative brevity, it packs a powerful emotional punch
and is a very impressive piece of film-making.
Set on 4 July (Independence Day in the United States), it features two seemingly mismatched couplings: Joe and June; and Dexter and Abigayle. Joe (Wendell Pierce) is a forty something black college professor who is married, but whose wife is ill and needs constant care and attention. Abigayle (Aja Naomi King) is his adolescent daughter. Joe has a seemingly settled home-life but is, in fact, secretly gay and uses the internet to try to meet other gay people. June (Emory Cohen) - an odd name for a boy: his parents named him thus because he was supposed to have been born in that month but he was a premature baby and his birthday is actually in April - is a white 15- year old and is trying to come to terms with the fact that he is gay. But he is a very self- conscious, awkward, occasionally taciturn teenager who is finding it difficult to come out to friends and family. Joe and June meet via the internet and are having their first "date" together. Whereas June is shy and introspective, Dexter (E J Bonilla) is almost the complete opposite. He is brash, confident and extrovert. He loves playing basketball and has dropped out of school. Dexter is going out with Abigayle, although their relationship is clearly fragile. Abigayle challenges what she sees as his idiotic chat-up lines and his general cockiness. While her father is meeting June (unbeknown to her, of course), she agrees to meet Dexter for a short time. She is supposed to stay at home to look after her mother and because she is expecting a phone call from her father who she believes is on a work-related visit to Boston. In fact, their date appears to last for the whole evening, and in the course of it Abigayle unexpectedly sees Joe in his car with June (although Joe is unaware that his cover has been blown).
"Four" very skilfully portrays the search for love and for happiness that, in their own different way, each of the four principal characters is undertaking (as, indeed, we all constantly are, of course). That search is an emotional minefield with confusion, an inability to communicate, self-loathing and an arrogance that conceals vulnerability and timidity all on display to some extent. This is a very well-acted and -directed film that says much in its 75 minutes. It is also intelligent, thoughtful and heartbreaking. I suspect that "Four" will not hit the headlines or cause much of a stir. But in its understated way, it is a devastatingly effective film and one that will linger long in the memory of anyone who sees it. Highly recommended. 8/10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
'Four' isn't about Marvel Comics' first family, but is instead a talking heads drama. A white teenager, convinced he's homosexual, arranges to meet an older black man (played by Wendell Pierce from 'The Wire') for sex. Meanwhile, the man's teenage daughter spends time with a well-muscled Latino lad who's trying to get inside her knickers. The story is pure human interest, a drama with a layer of sadness or hopelessness covering every character, to varying degrees. The acting gets a bit over-wrought at times, but I enjoyed this wordy film, which is also very much suited to the stage. The relatively short running time flew by.
This movie is one you cannot stop watching! Four people - three males
one female - on one July 4th evening. Joe - a middle aged successful
college professor who puts on a cheerful front but inside he is torn
apart. June - a teenage boy confused and seeking to find himself and
realizing the fear it brings. Abigayle - the daughter of Joe, she is
beautiful, intelligent, responsible, but she is seeking to fulfill her
physical desires without betraying herself. Dexter - he is young, very
attractive (and he knows it), overly confident, a dropout, and he only
wants what he can from Abigayle.
Director: Joshua Sanchez weaves this 4th of July story together in such a way you easily become emotionally involved with each one. There is tension and suspense. You will be wondering is there danger for June. Will Abigayle be a victim. Why is Joe, who seems so pleasant and with so much to loose, doing what he's doing. And Dexter he's the wild card because he seems tender but volatile.
At movies end Joshua Sanchez leaves the book open on each character. What's to happen with Abigalye and her discovery. Who did June call with the cell phone - was it Todd - I got that impression. Dexter gets what he wants but will Abigalye drop him. And Joe, I felt sorry for him, he will eventually have to face up to his family but he hasn't realized it yet.
If you care for movies about the human condition of just living and needing and how some seek to satisfy this need then FOUR is the film for you. It's a wonderful achievement in acting, direction, plot, etc.
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