Having joined a recently created video club, a lowly prep-school sophomore - desensitized from reality by frequently viewed Internet imagery - accidentally captures on video the final moments of admired twin senior classmates dying from poisoned drugs. Rather than galvanize the school or this lad's life in any profound or meaningful way, the tragedy causes barely a ripple in the already emotionally diminished and out-of-touch lives of everyone around. Written by
In one of the early scenes in Rob's dorm room, a poster on the wall near the door says "DO YOU FEEL - new album." This poster is for an album by the popular alternative one-man music project headed by pop-rocker Bryce Avary known as The Rocket Summer. "Do You Feel" was The Rocket Summer's third full-length album and was released in 2007. See more »
Rob, what's going on back there? Come on, Rob, what's going on?
Um... Rob wants to use the video to make a porn.
Well, that's a... that's a very nice idea, but there will be no fluids permitted around the camera, bodily or any other sort.
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Good for discussions but never reaches the heart. It's too mechanical and copied from other masterpieces
The daily routine of a boarding school spirals out of control and shifts to new policies after the death of two students by drug overdose in one of the many corridors of the place. And it was all videotaped by another student, Robert (Ezra Miller), who was using his camera for a school project. The story, actually, begins with him - a typical teenager, just a little more lonely than the usual barely talking to his roommate and constantly spending his days on the internet watching porn or school fight videos. Connect those events and you have a figure formed, a bomb waiting to explode. The movie's concern is in seeing how Robert will react with this tragedy while continuing with his project (now a memorial tribute for the dead girls), classes and involvement with his classmates.
So, it denounces the internet in a large scale and stays contrived while criticizing reality, real people and their sometimes useless values. Deals with real and poignant themes but the characters aren't so real, specially when you see the now familiar faces and voices of Miller and Michael Stuhlbarg. Good actors here and elsewhere but since the director is trying an almost documentary kind of film their performances get in the way. The themes explored were great, the presentation and the choices made were what killed its potential. It's a suffocating experience. It's right for the movie but that at no point cannot take the pleasure of the viewing.
Director Antonio Campos uses of static images that represent the voyeurish act of seeing things very distantly, rejecting close-ups and movements. It's the vision of the kid of sees everything from a distance, the girls he can't reach present on the net videos, and also the ones he couldn't save because he was in a state of shock (we're fooled into this until a certain moment). Furthermore, it's slow and problematic in the sound department - and since I didn't have captions for it a few things were gathered with the help of IMDb boards. That's what the director tries to convey (it could be) but to me it was lazy filmmaking hacking from masters like Haneke and Van Sant, trying to be a higher (and updated) variation of "Benny's Video" with "Elephant". Fails on both accounts. It's too mechanical.
Why does it always have to follow through doubtful actions? Why it has to be inconclusive or misleading or going in several directions? And the ending? A real betrayal that almost destroyed the film. I saw film critics dissing films because the final image killed the experience and shifts the movie to an unexpected and unpleasant degree, and I've never understood much of that. Now I know. It didn't kill my enjoyment but I must recognize that it was very cheap.
I liked "Afterschool" because when it wasn't trying to be pretentious (and it is) it offered valid criticisms about adults negligence while dealing with kids and it's an intelligent and psychological radiography on today's youth and all of its problems. Extremely manipulative and quite deceiving towards its final moments but gotta admit Mr. Campos managed to build tension in all scenes even the ones you give less importance like when the headmaster complains about Robert's expressionless video.
Some people look at this as a critique of the America post 9/11, and there's plenty of sustainable elements to confirm such view. I don't buy all that much but that can make your view something extra if you look carefully. Mindblowing. My message to the hipsters who believe this is one of the 10 best of the past decade: relax yourselves because there's better out there. The director's technique is poorly employed here. It works with other directors because they know what they're doing and probably they're not copying a style, they're making a tribute and using a bit of their own craft. "Afterschool" is simply a copy and paste. Good movie, far from great. 7/10
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