This week I was able to score tickets to two films at AFI's SILVERDOCS festival. I feel privileged to live within walking distance of this event and glad to see it so well supported. Both of my selections, Forbidden Lie$ and Bi the Way were outstanding. But oddly enough the movie that had the biggest impact on me this week was one of my alcohol-fueled netflix choices. You know the ones I am talking about! They arrive in your mailbox but you have no idea how they got on your queue.
Childhood's End received very mixed reviews--most everyone on Netflix hated it but the IMDB folks tended to love it. This love/hate response piqued my curiosity. Not to sound too Libran, but after seeing the movie I can understand both the negative and positive reviews. The netflix contingent were generally disgruntled because Eddie Falco was billed as a star but appears only briefly. Plus the dialog initially was too wordy and stiffly delivered by the cast.
The story centers around two high school students, Greg and Denise. Greg is a Mr. Perfect who launches into an affair with his mother's friend, a hedonistic divorcee. The divorcee's daughter, Denise, is friends with Greg and unbeknownst to her mother, a lesbian. Denise winds up coaxing Rebecca, a wallflower who is infatuated with Greg, out of her shell and into her bed.
The film at first seems unrealistic because Greg's wholesome midwest family are very nonchalant about the taboo scenarios unfolding in their household. Not only are Greg’s parents supportive of their son's dalliance with a woman twice his age, they are nonplussed that his sister, Chloe, has retained him to take nude photos of her for a modeling portfolio (there is actually lots of un-airbrushed nudity thoughout the film). Despite this initial lack of credibility, the second half of the movie hits its stride when the focus turns to the convincing and beautiful romance between Denise and Rebecca.
Denise's confident demeanor masks the pain of parental neglect but provides Rebecca with the strength to overcome her fear of people. Rebecca in turn provides support for Denise to let her guard down. The scene in which they hook up is uncomfortably raw but the writer/director racks up lesbian mitzvah points by featuring two Dusty Springfield songs in the soundtrack. In the end, everyone winds up with what they deserve. And the lesbians wind up the happiest.
Sometimes Netflixing Under the Influence isn’t such a bad thing!