Review: Hellion (Candler, 2014) – Sundance 2014

Courtesy of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival website

Courtesy of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival website

Kat Candler‘s Hellion, which follows a motherless family falling apart as the father retreats into alcoholism, the older brother becomes a delinquent, and the younger son looks poised to follow in his big brother’s footsteps, was another movie I was bound to like. I’m a sucker for good acting and stories that focus on interpersonal relationships, and this movie had both in spades. In fact, the characters and the acting were compelling enough that they blinded me to some of the movie’s flaws (pointed out by Variety reviewer Peter Debruge). Though everyone was good, I was most impressed with newcomer Josh Wiggins, who Entertainment Weekly likened to the young Leonardo DiCaprio in This Boy’s Life. (I hope he’s better than DiCaprio turned out to be. Lately it feels like DiCaprio’s the same in every role he plays, with his Calvin Candie in Django Unchained possibly the only exception.)

Yes, the plot is a little conventional. And the main character’s Motocross obsession seems a somewhat distracting and irrelevant plot device. But none of that mattered to me because the characters and their interactions were so real they popped out of the screen. Looking forward to more from Wiggins and director Kat Candler.

Debruge complains about the shaky camera work, but it didn’t bother me.

Acquired by Sundance Selects (a sister label to IFC Films and IFC Midnight, owned and operated by AMC Networks).

Interesting Q&A tidbit: Wiggins doesn’t know how to Motocross. Taking a lesson for this movie, he almost ended up falling off the bike and ramming into the only tree in sight. Good thing his acting is better!

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