- compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2004 1 Jan
The film is an R-rated—but powerfully honest and realistic—portrayal of troubled teenagers from Estacada, Oregon, who embark on a journey along the Lewis River that becomes a nightmare. Young Sam (Rory Culkin of
You'll likely experience a rising panic as the journey progresses, wishing you could reach into the movie and turn that boat around. Then you'll want to give all of their parents a good talking-to. The way that these kids' misbehavior and cruel vocabulary stems from the absence of fathers, mothers, and God in their lives is something to consider. Their thoughts about their families and beliefs are only ever-so-slightly suggested by their comments, but they are, I think, the key to understanding the movie. In a summer of shallowness and sensationalism,
Stef Loy (The Matthews House Project) joins the chorus of raves, describing how "the story turns from a simple revenge plot to a tragically serious morality play. Ethical themes speak so loudly to us here that we can scarcely keep up with the exquisite on-screen cinematography. Estes pulls off the impossible in creating movie magic: he challenges us to think, and we consider all the characters and their actions to such a degree that we forget we are watching a movie. And once we have burrowed into the heart of all these young and stupid characters, once we have grappled with their consequences, we are racked by their consciences and forced to come to terms with a need for reconciliation."
David DiCerto (Catholic News Service) says, "
Brett McCracken (Relevant) writes, "What is immediately striking about
Mainstream critics are taking notice and praising Estes for this impressive debut.from Film Forum, 09/30/04
My interview with Jacob Aaron Estes, the director of one of this year's most memorable and powerful films, is now available in the latest of issue of Paste Magazine. The article explores the way that the young characters respond to their lack of good role models and the absence of any relationship with God. Estes talks about why this R-rated film might be worthwhile for parents to see with their teenagers.
Josh Hurst (Reveal) says, "Jacob Aaron Estes' directorial debut is a dark parable about anger, revenge, and responsibility. Although the writer/director wrote the film's script several years ago, it burns with disarming war-time relevance. In fact, it's one of 2004's most richly rewarding movies."