Mean Creek (15)

Directed by Jacob Aaron Estes
Screening at FACT from 13th-15th May 2005

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

This impressive American independent film, with Jacob Aaron Estes making his directorial debut, is a simple but effective story set mainly along a creek in Oregon, with the cast consisting almost entirely of teenagers.

It concerns a boy called Sam (Rory Caulkin) who is beaten up in school by a fat bully named George (Josh Peck). Marty (Scott Mechlowicz), the friend of Sam's elder brother, vows vengeance on him for his misdeed. He plans to take him on a boating trip, force him to strip naked and walk home nude.

But it all goes horribly wrong. While on the boat, during a game of truth or dare, Marty, riled by George's comments about his father shooting himself, bundles him into the water, resulting in him drowning. The kids then bury George along a bank of the creek, but Marty is forced to flee to Mexica, after the rest of the group, following a lot of soul searching by them, decide to inform the police about the tragedy.

The film is notable on a number of counts. The acting by the teenagers is generally impressive, particularly Culkin and Mechlowicz - they both surely have a bright future in filmland. The cinematography is inspired, notably the shots of wildlife and the river itself. Furthermore the dialogue in the film is always acutely observed and true to life.

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