TWELVE – Sundance Movie Review
If you’re into teen angst, dark films, TWELVE might be for you. The movie chronicles the story of privileged urban adolescents on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. We meet White Mike, a kid who had everything going for him, but decided to leave it all behind by dropping out of his senior year in high school and become a drug dealer. His drug of choice: marijuana, which he sells to his peers. Here is the thing though, White Mike doesn’t do any drugs himself (or even drink for that matter), he just sells them.
Early in the movie, his cousin gets murdered and his best friend is arrested for the crime. However, White Mike is pretty much unaware of all this through most of the film. Parallel to that story, we follow White Mike’s peers who are still in high school as they get ready for a party that none of them will ever forget.
Twelve is definitely a really dark portrayal of youth, it is based on the critically acclaimed novel by Nick McDonell, who wrote it when he was 17 years old. I wasn’t sure what I was in for when I went to see Twelve, but it sure left me thinking about it afterwards. Now I had some issues with the film, but overall I enjoyed it.
One of my big problem with the film was the voice over (narrated by Kiefer Sutherland), it seemed that its purpose was explaining what they were unable to show visually or through dialogue, but at the same time they sort of made it sound like the voice over in Amelie. It didn’t prevent me from enjoying the movie, but I think I would have enjoyed it more if done differently.
Chace Crawford actually surprised me as White Mike, I thought he did a pretty good job and he even shined more in this film than he usually does in Gossip Girl. Speaking of Gossip Girl, at first, I thought the actress who plays Jessica, Emily Meade, was actually Leighton Meester, who plays Blair Waldorf in the show. They not only look alike, but the characters (or the way they play them) were pretty similar, it was like watching Blair if she took drugs. A little unsettling. The rest of the cast is very young and they all do a decent job, with some of the newcomers even outshining the others, more specifically Jeremy Allen White who plays White Mike’s cousin, Charlie.
But mostly, this is a film aimed at showing the despair and disheartenment that afflicts most of these people. But I think the saddest part is to know that this reflects some sort of reality. I enjoyed some of the ways director Joel Schumacher used an empty sort of stage to illustrate the backstories of the characters, which helped in portraying the disjunctive nature of these people’s lives. It was different, but it worked for me. The ending, even though I sort of saw coming, was still pretty outrageous and will give you something to talk about.
It is clear that this is not a film to watch when you feel down, but I think it’s an interesting portrayal of today’s youth and if this is the type of movie you usually enjoy, you should definitely give it a shot.