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On the surface this seems like a simple, predictable film. It doesn't
have a grand storyline nor does the plot build up to a single defining
Essentially, this is a film about flawed characters who make flawed choices. They don't always say the right thing or solve all of their problems. They are simply human.
Danes is wonderful as the now 'grown up' teen mother, struggling with her own identity crisis as her daughter - the same age as her mother was when she was born - is too exploring her sexuality and considering her future. Bolger plays the role with enough restraint to avoid the teenager stereotype, whilst Marsden, although his scenes are brief, is so believable as the absent father.
I can see where this film could be seen as shallow and it's true that there are a few stronger issues that are touched on but not really developed (consent, domestic violence to name a few). However, in a way I appreciated how the plot continued on without delving into the complexities and our characters continued to make the impulsive and flawed decisions that make them as human and realistic as you or me - shaped by these things that have happened to them, but not defined.
Firstly, I need to say that I enjoyed this film, I did. It held my
attention and I felt satisfied afterward. Yes, it was mildly
predictable in places but not annoyingly so.
What did frustrate me though was the lack of depth. A couple of other reviewers mentioned this so I'm glad I'm not alone: There were so many issues that I thought were going to be explored further and just.... weren't. Even the ending, although mildly cathartic, left me with unanswered questions.
Still, taken at face value, the film was... nice.
Hmm... I'm realizing this review is a bit 'meah'; not really negative, not really positive, but that's a direct reflection of the film's content, so sorry!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I watched this movie thinking that this movie is actually one of those
light-hearted family comedy-drama. I was pleasantly surprised that it
served more... much much more.
As the plot summary already contained, this movie is the coming-of-age tale of Lucy, a smart 15-year old girl who's a product of teenage pregnancy. Her father is pretty much absent most of the year because he has to work as a lumberjack somewhere. And while he is an absentee father, he is very much committed to provide for his family. As her dad (played by James Marden) grew up in an orphanage, he has a longing to have a traditional family where the mother stays at home while the father goes away to find livelihood. Her mother, having deprived of living a single life being married at an early age, tries to live the single life ---while trying to hold on to her family --- with disastrous consequences.
The first half of the movie started out fantastic, taking its time to establish the main players in Lucy's life which is mainly her parents and her best friend since they were kids, Kenny. Contrary to one of the user reviews here, Lucy and Kenny are not "unreal". Although they were not your typical average teenagers driven by raging hormones, these type of kids exist (I would know, I'm one of them). Their belief system were mainly shaped by the family they were born in. Kenny, a product of divorced parents looks forward to a relationship that will last but is very pragmatic which pretty much stops him from going for things he really wants. Lucy, having parents who were unprepared to be parents, has to overcompensate for her parent's irresponsibility. However, as any teenager who goes through self-discovery, she eventually started exploring her sexuality and romantic relationships unguided. And as any teenager who goes through bouts of angst and anger, she also started unraveling.
All of these drew me in. Sarah Bolger, who plays Lucy, embodied the part so well that it's quite hard not to fall for her--- flaws and all. Claire Danes and James Marden, for the most part, were effective and sometimes brilliant.
However, the movie started to fell apart when it tried to do too much. And instead of focusing on one theme... it started adding in heavy sub-plots that didn't go anywhere or if it did, it didn't come to a satisfying close that will eventually support the main plot. And when you start stacking more and more, it's bound to fall apart. Not that the sub-plots were bad. Had this been a TV mini-series, it would have been more effective because these sub-plots could have been explored at length. But considering the medium, it just weighted the movie down... hard...
And it's an extreme disservice because the first half of the movie was really good. There were some well put together which showed moments of brilliance. As much as I want to remember the movie for it, I can't erase from memory the last 30 minutes and especially that ending that wasted great talents like Peter Fonda. And suddenly, the movie ends with a whimper... as if the writer just ran out of paper to write on. In coming of age movies like this one, it's important that the main characters have to come face to face with the need to evolve and move from point a to b. And although the ending somehow shows us that Lucy finds peace in surrendering to her fate. It felt abrupt and forced.
Honestly, I would give this a movie a 6/10 but the 5.5 rating is I think too low for a movie that actually showed a lot of promise. So never mind the last 30 minutes of the movie, I still fell in love with Lucy so I'm giving this a 7.
As Cool as I Am isn't really a gripping film, and will likely be far
away from my favorites of the year, but in terms of trying to
revitalize the coming-of-age drama with a delightfully contemporary
idea and script is succeeds solely on that merit. It concerns Lucy
(Sarah Bolger), a well-mannered fourteen year old who has a lumberjack
father Chuck (James Marsden) who is away for long periods of time due
to work and her mother Lainee (Claire Danes), who might as well be her
age thanks to her attitude and approach to reality. Lucy always had the
idea that her family was "stable" in that they functioned like a normal
family. However, as she gets older, she realizes her family is a "real"
one, with problems and conflicts that are usually not instantly noticed
by kids. This whole idea of "stable" and "real" families is discussed
in the opening monologue, pretty much admitting the film will not be a
narrow look at this common issue that is quickly growing.
That issue is having a child at a young age. Chuck and Lainee had Lucy when they were both seventeen, making them not much older than her in retrospect, leaving most of their decisions to be rather impulsive and quite questionable. For such a contemporary issue - having children and kids young and, often, out of wedlock - this one is scarcely brought up and thrown into public eye. Director Max Mayer, of the 2009 sleeper-hit Adam, brings a mature and focused look to the subject by allowing each character some expression and a moment when their personality comes out.
Lucy is already becoming a young woman, and with an unstable family life and an absent father, this leads her on a path she wouldn't normally take. She becomes more flirtatious, acts differently around her guy friends, and on several occasions almost consents to sex. This plot alone wages the question "are teens more likely to become rebellious if they do not have both parents playing a significant role in their life?" When her father returns home, and realizes that Lucy has, for one, driven the car unsupervised after her mother arrives at an interview, and has gone on to kiss several different boys, he becomes mad and very violent out of nowhere. That's his moment to shine; would his anger be so prominent and consuming if he had been home consistently? The only other main character is the mother, whose reckless behavior is almost as bad as her husband's absence. She becomes flirtatious at the office, even so far as to have sex with a co-worker not long after beginning to work there. After finding this out, Lucy can use this as bait to justify her actions rather than be awkwardly silent when he mother ridicules her for her behavior. The character's actions are one big, tangled cycle that only fuel and unintentionally elaborate on each others decisions.
As Cool as I Am asks a lot of questions and, in the end, quietly leaves the audience with deteriorating optimism that maybe Lucy will end up unsatisfied later in life, and at only fourteen, this idea likely hasn't crossed her mind. Writer Virginia Korus Spragg does a smooth job at developing the characters on the surface and subtly evoking commentary on the new generation of kids, many of whom likely to be raised by a more uncertain, rushed generation of people. I see another cycle coming along.
Starring: Claire Danes, James Marsden, and Sarah Bolger, and Jon Tenney. Directed by: Max Mayer.
"If memory is malleable then the future is too." Lucy is a sixteen year old girl who is too smart for her own good. She spends her free time learning how to cook and hanging out with her friend Kenny. Her mother (Danes) and father (Marsden) had her when they were young and not ready for that responsibility. Now with her dad gone all but 4 times a year and her mom acting like a kid herself Lucy is left to discover life for herself. This is a movie that again proves my point that a movie can be entertaining and worth watching involving great acting rather then special effects. This is a movie along the line of What Maisie Knew only involving an older child rather then a 6 year old. Parents that should not have been allowed to have children and a child who is more mature then the parents. You really root for Lucy the entire time and by the time the end come you feel extremely sorry for her as well as relief. That is a hard combination to achieve but that's what great writing and acting does. Overall, a great movie that is pretty depressing but I recommend this. I give it a B+.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Sixteen-year-old Lucy (Sarah Bolger) is a tomboy. She gets on well with
her father (James Marsden) but is frequently separated from him for
months on end when he goes to work in Canada. Her relationship with her
mother (Claire Danes) is easy-going and she takes care of most things
around the house. She tunes into her sexuality and her not so 'stable'
family dynamics. She develops a relationship with her best friend Kenny
(Thomas Mann) and starts to realize that her parents' marriage is not
as solid as she had previously imagined. She notices that her father's
extended stays away from the family are not typical, and that her
mother does not pine for her father as much as she herself does.
After watching this movie, I feel like Sarah Bolger is a naturally talented actress. She can hold your attention the entire time she's on screen. The rest of the actors are all fine. This is a small compelling chapter in a young girl's life. Lucy doesn't shun the mainstream stereotypical look of girls, as much as she naturally develops into her own person with her own traits. She realizes that she doesn't have a 'stable' family per se and that she may be the only adult in her family. The parents, their actions, struggles, the guys at school, her falling in mutual love with the one person she knows she can trust outside of her family, her love for cooking, everything is quite realistic and a little depressing at times.
Most of the characters are nuanced and as the story progresses, their outbursts come naturally. Each one is given enough time and material to let their personalities come through. Their actions aren't glorified, but neither are they demonized. It just comes off as understandable. Rape is one thing I simply cannot stand and Lucy should have made a complaint to make the boy pay, but we have seen/heard of that course of inaction a lot of times in real life. Her father telling the story of a mutilated saint just came off as ignorant of reality, but also highlighted his upbringing and the guilt he felt for having a child at such a young age. After Roger Ebert's passing, there's only one critic that I trust. He hasn't reviewed this movie, but I fail to understand the disdain and vitriol spewed against this charming coming of age tale by most of the other self-anointed 'critics'. This isn't a path-breaking tale, but it doesn't mean it doesn't have its own appeal.
This movie was not what I was expecting by far! It gave me more of a Non-Mainstream type of Mother/Daughter Film! Which was highly unexpected, but very Welcomed! lol There are a lot of these types of movies out now, they all seem to have either one out of two types of plots. 1. The Mom is a crappy mother, Which is a broad term but you get the idea, she is in one way or another not a good mother to her child. Therefore leaving this child to be more mature for her age, and the story line follows her around in a coming of age type of movie usually. Or 2. The Child is a defiant one, a trouble maker to say the least, leaving the poor mother/father or both stressed and/or worried about their child, and how it's their fault, etc. etc. etc. This movie is a semi-mixture of both of those scenarios, which I enjoyed being surprised by! It made the movie more life-like, more likely to happen in this day and age. So if you are a semi-younger Mother of a pre-teen or teenage daughter, I highly recommend this movie to YOU! As It's nice sometimes to watch movies you, and your heart, and home life can relate to! At least for me it is.
I had initially thought this movie to be a comedy. Mainly because I
hadn't read the synopsis, nor scouted IMDb for information about it.
All I had was seen the movie's front cover.
And now having seen the movie, I will say that, whilst this wasn't a comedy, then the movie didn't fail to entertain. This is a movie about real people with real problems ... well, or at least that is what is meant to be portrayed in the movie. And director Max Mayer actually pulled it off quite nicely, because the characters were very realistic and people you could relate to on one level or another. And the story was well-told, with a good constant flow to the storyline.
However, as good as the characters and storyline were, then the movie would be nothing without proper acting talent. And the people they had cast for the various roles in "As Cool As I Am" were really doing great jobs, each and everyone of them. The ensemble they had put together for this movie were really talented and really brought the movie to life on the screen.
If you enjoy a good drama that could very well be something straight out of someone's ordinary day-to-day life, then you most definitely should sit down to watch "As Cool As I Am".
The reason for me 'only' giving this movie a 6 out of 10 stars, is that the movie seems to be aimed mostly at a young adult / late teenager audience. But still, the movie is enjoyable and definitely worth watching regardless of your age.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Lucy Diamond has to deal with a very dysfunctional family. She only
sees her Dad a few times per year, thanks to his lumberjack duties. Her
mother does the best that she can, but she's in disarray. Her best
friend is a guy, Kenny. Lucy & Kenny fall for each other during the
summer. When school starts, things begin to get increasingly difficult
when Lucy starts exploring sex and alcohol, while everyone she cares
about seems to abandon her in time of need. Meanwhile, Lucy's mother
Lainee can't cope very well with her husband's constant time away and
resorts to sleeping with other guys to try to alleviate her suffering.
5.8? Are you kidding me? This is a genuine piece of film making with the best intentions in mind for everyone. Not only is it very realistic for the most part, but the strength of the character development in this film is top-notch. You are able to sympathize with everyone in this film in some shape or form. Even when I didn't agree with a character's decision or their attitude, I was still able to get into their plights. I thought it was a very good look at not only teenage angst, but parenting as well. The issues between Lainee (The Mom) , & Chuck (The Dad) is all too real. Far too often do things go awry when you have a child at such a young age. You start to pine for your glory years after a while, forgetting about the things that are most important. We all deal with things in different ways. I've heard people talk about how predictable this movie is. They're correct about that, but predictability isn't always a bad thing, now, is it? Claire Danes is terrific as the complex mother. There were times I couldn't stand her and others where I absolutely adored her, but when all is said and done, it's impossible not to feel something for her character. As good as Claire Danes is, the best performance in this movie belongs to Sarah Bolger. She is absolutely phenomenal for her age, conveying many emotions to perfection. She has a lot of screen time and she is easily up to the task. I was very impressed by her. James Mardsen is excellent as the father with pent-up frustration and repressed anger. it isn't that easy to sympathize with him, but if you look hard enough, you should be able too. My only complaint about this movie is that the second half gets a bit convoluted. After a near perfect first half, things get a little haywire with too many loose ends. I didn't like the ending at all. It is ambitious, but it fails to make much sense and left me feeling somewhat deflated after such a powerful experience for most of the movie.
Final Thoughts: This is one of the most underrated films of 2013. Sure, the second half is slightly disappointing, but nowhere near enough to hamper your overall experience. I loved it and I hope you will as well. Don't neglect it like many others have
7.1 of 10. As teen girl films go this year, I prefer The Truth About
Emanuel (2013). By comparison, this is clearly an attempt to do another
teen girl perspective film. In many ways, it succeeds in addressing
important issues while still creating something amusing and sexy teens
can relate to. Unfortunately, it tries to do too much and cover too
One of the many good artistic things it does that is often failed in other films is having the lead character speak in the background for added context. Here, it's done the way it should be, like hearing the character's thoughts and not trying to use it to tell the story.
Some other films this reminds me of and those who enjoy this (or those) will enjoy: Drool (2009), Rocket Science (2007), Snow Angels (2007), Lars and the Real Girl (2007), Teeth (2007), Poker House (2008), Precious (2009), and Kids (1995).
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