Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You (2011) Poster

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I'm a sucker for movies that start with a character about to jump off a rooftop
rooprect28 December 2013
If you're like me, the phrase "coming of age story" is about as exciting as the phrase "nature documentary about corn". That said, this coming of age story ranks among the best I've seen and kept me interested from start to finish.

At its heart is the familiar story of a teenage loner who's much too wise for his own good, living in NYC and simultaneously battling a dysfunctional family and the malaise of life. The book "Catcher in the Rye" comes to mind as do the films "The Squid and the Whale", "Igby Goes Down" and "City Island" (yeah for someone who doesn't like coming of age stories, I sure manage to see a lot of them). All follow the same basic structure: we observe a few days in the life of a troubled teen, seeing different vignettes that are not necessarily related to each other but give us insight into the character's isolation from family & society.

What sets this apart from the others is the masterfully suspenseful way it's told. That is, even though there is no traditional plot line, the film leads us on with anticipation of events to come. How is this done? Well, for one it starts with a scene of the boy standing on a rooftop ledge preparing to jump to his death. How's that for a hook? It keeps us guessing throughout with references to "what happened in DC" - an episode which is not explained until near the end of the film. Dramatic lighting & cinematography also augment the tension in a subtle way. In this way, the film presents a gnawing mystery which should keep you interested despite the lack of traditional action.

Two other things kept my interest going, the first is the playful sense of humor (seeing the absurdity of peoples' actions contrasted with the calm exasperation of the main character--sorta like you'd find in an 80s John Cusack comedy). The second is the acting of the main character himself. The 17-year-old hero James (played by actor Toby Regbo) is a very colorful character. Though his emotions are muted and his interactions with other characters are equally suppressed, we still manage to get close to him somehow. Perhaps it's because of his expressive face even when he's not expressing emotions. Maybe it's just his body language. Or maybe it's the way he connects with his little dog. For whatever reason, I felt instantly connected with him even though my own life has nothing in common with his.

Great supporting performances by every other character, most of whom play comedic oddballs or such extreme caricatures that you can't help but laugh at their every expression. The father (Peter Gallagher) had me laughing, and Aubrey Plaza (though a very small role) had me in stitches with her signature weirdness.

If you like slightly satirical films about real life, and if you don't require car chases, shootouts and sex scenes, then this is a good one. I would also add if you like films set in NYC this has some great scenery and nostalgic locations. Even if you aren't thrilled at coming of age stories, this one is worth your time, as are the others I've mentioned. "Someday This Pain" bears a slight resemblance to my favorite coming of age flick "Archie's Final Project" about a troubled teen who wants to film his suicide for a high school film class.

Now if someone could just make a nature documentary on corn so interesting, my life will be complete.
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Review of Someday this Pain Will Be Useful To You
davidgreen978727 September 2012
This film was fantastic. I have almost nothing in common with the main character, but I somehow managed to connect with him in multiple ways. He embodies the tortured teen spirit that comes inevitably with an unstable home environment, and his confusion is expertly depicted through the film's witty dialogue and realistic nature. I also thoroughly enjoyed Aubrey Plaza's character; she was charming as usual and played the part very well. The cast was very well chosen and had great chemistry - each individual actor is clearly talented but when put together they are a force. I have only good things to say about this movie!
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Wonderfully, deep and feeling!
Jack-Knife16 July 2012
This movie was one of those that managed to get really really close to me, and sometimes it even touched me deep. But that may be just all because I feel personally so connected I can relate nearly identical to the main actor's character thoughts, doubts, emotions and soul, except for the two facts I am twice as old and, unlike him, know what love feels like. Damn, the are so many scenes, dialoge I would myself already have put into a book which I never wrote because im so lazy and forgetful - to watch the movie made me feel so good, and happy to see there are now and then some inspired and talented filmmakers and actors out there who can shine. Love this flick. 9 out of 10 my rating *********
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It Ruined My Life...
cain_zaria17 September 2012
Warning: Spoilers
So i read the book. By the time i gotten to chapter nine (He finally starts talking about what happened in the American Classroom) I realized, "He's like the male version of me." All that hating people, suicidal thoughts, depression, and psychopathy was all right there in this book about a guy who understood the world and hated what he found.

BY the time i got to the end i thought, "Why the hell did i read this?" It's frustrating and scary because it makes you question EVERYTHING and soon you just can't trust anymore. It ruined me for a while there.

But then I read it again and I'm like, "I can do better than this. So what if I'm miserable? If I'm going to be miserable then it's going to be on MY terms." Of course this makes no sense at all but at the time i was inspired and realized, "James was right. I'm just a teenager. What do i really know?"

Basically you're going to be pulling your hair and thinking a lot but in the end it just might make you better.
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A Holden Caulfield for the 21st century
gradyharp14 October 2012
James Cameron's story SOMEDAY THIS PAIN WILL BE USEFUL TO YOU is coming of age tale that is, at turns, funny, sad, tender, and sophisticated. As adapted for the screen by director Roberto Faenza with Cameron and Dahlia Heyman this becomes an experimental film that will delight many and confuse some. The cast is excellent and once the audience moves into the rhythm of the narrated story it is difficult not to re-live youth and pull for the lad whose story this is.

James Sveck (Toby Regbo) is a lonely young teenager who is tortured by his grossly unstable home environment and is fraught with hating people, suicidal thoughts, depression, and the preference for solitude. It is the summer before he goes off to college at Brown University and he is conflicted: his vain Lothario father (Peter Gallagher) insists that he go to college, his gallery owner mother (Marcia Gay Harden) has just returned form Las Vegas and her third failed marriage - this time to a compulsive gambler (Stephen Lang); his sister Gillian (Deborah Ann Woll) is writing her memoir and falling for an older married Polish professor; and James is working with his mother's gallery director (O'Ryan Graves), trying to make since of art, people, relationships and the chaos of the world that confuses him - the last thing he wants is to enter the college world. His mother lines him up with a Life Coach (Lucy Liu) and slowly James begins to come to grips with a past bad memory and to learn to accept who he is as someone worth living. James only loving connection to the world is his grandmother (Ellen Burstyn) and from her he learns a lot about the vagaries of life and how to cope. The story is told in the first person narration which helps give an intimate inside view of James as he works through his life at the therapy sessions which his parents insist he attend and it is in this manner that we learn about James's past and present through the stories he tells and his recounting of previous therapy sessions and the ambivalences and uncertainties of adolescence.

The film manages to balance teenage angst and relationship failures with an equal amount of drama and comedy. This is one of those films that linger in memory long after the final credits.

Grady Harp
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You've got it all wrong.
azrael-seraphin14 December 2013
To all of those people out there commenting on how bad the acting was or how poorly the script was written or how there was no plot to the movie. You. Are. Wrong. As someone who read, and absolutely loved, the book I would like to say how much it meant to me that someone else enjoyed this book enough to craft it into a movie. When I first found this piece I was incredibly moved by it. Having gone through trials and tribulations as James had, finding someone out there, even fictional, who had experiences similar to my own was a godsend. I'd been there. I knew the pain of not belonging and the pressure to do so. I'd had those same hopeless thoughts. This book, if not saved than severely changed my life. So to all of you ragging on this movie because of its "flaws", you don't understand the message behind it, and I feel extremely sorry for you.
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Watching This Pain Won't Be Useful to You
sogooditsbad16 August 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Originally I was attracted to this movie for a few reasons. The first was the incredible choice of a title. As everyone knows, any movie that makes you say a whole sentence to refer to it is always the best (e.g. "He's Just Not That Into You" and "It's Kind of a Funny Story"). Additionally, the movie description builds it up as one of the typically first-rate teen coming of age dramas we've come to know and love (e.g. "The Art of Getting By" and "It's Kind of a Funny Story," albeit this lacks the Emma Roberts presence that was so brilliant in the latter and the only redeeming grace in the former). But really, the reason I decided to watch this film was seeing Aubrey Plaza credited. For me, that's enough to watch just about anything.

The first few minutes of the movie made me wonder if the title was some kind of meta-humor and that "this pain" actually referred to the pain that you, the viewer, would endure. The exposition of this film fails to accomplish little but making you hate the main character. Toby Regbo's character is contrived and shallow while the dialogue and narration try to force him to be a "deep" or "existential" teenager. Instead he comes off as moody and fake.

It gets better, though. As the movie develops you soon realize that there is no real plot involved. Instead, there are just random tangentially related events that don't really build upon each other. This, as we all know, makes for some excellent cinema. Luckily, conflict is able to be completely forced out of nowhere. Without any build up at all, the middle of the movie erupts into a fireworks display of emotion and F-Bombs for no real apparent reason. We are unable to really connect with the characters and the pain they must be feeling because there seems to be no real cause for as much suffering they pretend to be going through.

I would be remiss if I failed to comment on the film's cinematography. Setting aside the actual quality of the set or lighting (which the cinematographer seems to have done) this movie has some weird camera decisions. Watch it and you will be as confused as I was, wondering how someone chose the camera angles and transitions they did.

Most of the acting in this movie is terrible. I will not delve into exposing each poor performance; instead, I would like to discuss the acting performances that weren't so terrible.

Let's start with Toby Regbo's performance. I was a bit confused on this one because his acting seems to be a roller coaster-one scene it's pretty good and the next it's terrible. I realized this comes down to the terrible dialogue he was given and cannot be attributed to his acting skill. I actually enjoyed his performance at times as it tended to remind of a stressed-out Adam Scott in "Parks and Recreation."

Lucy Liu also suffers because of the script. Her character is absolutely ridiculous. She plays a psychoanalyst that is apparently terrible at her job. Instead of actually trying to help the main character with his mood disorders she merely gives him smoothies and goes on jogs with him while giving him terrible advice. At the end she even tells him, a suicidal, depressed teenager with high social-anxiety, that he's completely normal and doesn't need to worry about anything. Umm... excuse me? Did she not hear him tell her he was suicidal?!

Peter Gallagher's performance might have been my favorite. The character, I assume, was brought in for comic relief. He did make me laugh but not in the way the director likely intended. His performance is so strange and out of place that the awkwardness of it all brought a smile to my face. I am not one to shy away from cringe-worthy acting so I'll probably be one of a few that loved Peter Gallagher in this movie.

Last, but not least, we have the reason I even watched the movie in the first place-Aubrey Plaza. Her character feels completely alien in the strange world of this movie but she plays well to the ridiculous role she was given. Her performance was fantastic and did not disappoint.

The movie concludes much as it started-terribly. Since there was no real conflict there's no real point for a dénouement, I guess. Fittingly, the movie just feels like it ends without the characters really having developed or grown at all. Instead, as the credits roll, you reflect on what you have felt during the last hour and a half and remember that someday this pain will be useful to you.
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High school boy feels out of place in the world.
TxMike10 June 2013
Warning: Spoilers
When it was over my wife said "slice of life". And indeed it is but a bit more. I found it better than the IMDb rating would indicate.

It is about a 17-yr-old boy in NYC who is intelligent, has well-educated parents, and he is all set up to attend Brown after graduation. Or so his parents think. But he is very conflicted, he isn't sure he wants to go to college, has some idea that learning a trade might be better, like carpentry or leather working. His parents, who are divorced, are concerned and have him see a "life coach."

The boy is played by British actor Toby Regbo who has such a good ear for accents he never gives his origin away, but doesn't sound like a New Yorker either. He is the character James Sveck . His mom is played by Marcia Gay Harden as Marjorie and his dad is played by Peter Gallagher as investor Paul Sveck. Lucy Liu is the Life Coach . And Ellen Burstyn is his grandmother Nanette . She lives in some sort of rural community and he enjoys visiting her, and sometimes it seems she is the only one he can connect with.

So maybe the best way to summarize the story is James' "coming of age", realizing that his doubts and fears are normal, and that compared to most other he is in fact more normal than most.
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I thought I had this movie pegged
SerenityStone22 December 2012
This movie kind of reminds me of The Art of Getting By, but the main character was not as likable or accessible. Most of the time, I though he was annoying and affected. Many of the scenes rang false and the accompanying dialogue seemed to be written by a first-year psychologist student. However, the saving grace is the second-half of the film. Once the life-coach aspect comes into play, the movie improves dramatically. The main character's scenes with Lucy Lu felt real and not like the psycho-analysis that permeated the first-half of the movie. I really enjoyed the scenes in Washington and they really captured the claustrophobic feeling of the main character. Finally seeing what happened made the main character more sympathetic and less insufferable. Decent film
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Saad Khan30 July 2012
Someday this pain will be useful to you – Trash It (D) Well this is as bad as its name, a rich teenager finding meaning for his life and hating what he has is ridiculous. Even in the end we don't see finding him any meaning of his life which makes it even more badly. The director somehow manages to nab brilliant ensemble but even their performances couldn't save this lousy script. Toby Regbo was amazing in "Mr.Nobody" so I was really excited to see this but here he is just another Looney wandering in the streets of New York. Deborah Ann Woll is amazing beautiful as always. Marcia Gay Harden, Lucy Liu and Stephen long etc are good in their parts. On the whole, its waste of money and time, better to watch Toby Regbo is Mr.Nobody and Deborah Ann Woll again in True Blood.
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They are NOT therapy sessions....grrrrr.
MartinHafer12 July 2013
Before I get to what I think about "Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You", I have gotta point out something that really irritates me. In the IMDb summary, it talks about 'James as he works through his life at the therapy sessions'. These are NOT therapy sessions and as a trained psychotherapist, it irritates me when untrained folks do what they call 'therapy'. A life coach is NOT a therapist. Now I am not against life coaches--if you want one, fine. But in this movie a seriously depressed and suicidal young man goes to a life coach instead of seeking appropriate mental health treatment--and the life coach was WAY over her head and very unprofessional for ignoring this. Badly written and a bit irresponsible if you ask me.

As for the movie itself, this film reminds me of a couple other Marcia Gay Harden films I've seen lately--wonderfully acted yet with a script that seems incomplete or at least in need of a re-write. Now this does NOT mean I didn't like the film--it was worth it overall--even with its flaws (such as an ill-defined plot and an ending that seemed ridiculously simplistic). The acting and characters were that good. In particular, Toby Regbo (who is credited very low in the cast even though he's CLEARLY the lead) did a great job with the part he was given. Interesting and involving but the parts don't exactly work together to form a pleasing whole. See the film and see what you think.
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A confused 17 yr. old faces the horror of going to Harvard University in the fall.
Tom DeFelice9 June 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Oh the inhumanity of being wealthy, young and over privileged while living the easy life in Manhattan. His parents are divorced (though he "works" at his mother's art gallery and has full use of his father's beach front "cottage"). His grandmother dies and leaves him her home and it's contents. To think his parents want him to sell it all! Such heartache. Such drama.

The acting is first rate. Cinematography and production values are good. The one problem is the script. When the revolution comes, these people will be the first ones put up against the wall.

The characters are unsympathetic. The problems are nonexistent. It's not funny enough to be comedy and not serious enough to be tragedy. All it is, is a group of self-centered rich people stroking themselves. What a waste of 95 minutes.
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