Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Daydream Nation

My review of Daydream Nation is in this week's WE.

Kat Dennings bewitches boys and men in 
Daydream Nation.
Kat Dennings bewitches boys and men in Daydream Nation.
Credit: Supplied

Starring Kat Dennings, Josh Lucas
Directed by Michael Goldbach

A serial killer is on the loose as an industrial fire burns perpetually in the background. Daydream Nation might not be your typical romantic teen comedy, but it is a quintessentially Canadian one: quirky, funny, strange, and bittersweet.

Seventeen-year-old Caroline (Kat Dennings) is the new girl in a small B.C. town, but she has little in common with her peers. She seeks solace in the only other sophisticate she can find — her teacher, Mr. Anderson (Josh Lucas). To deflect suspicion about their affair, Caroline agrees to date classmate Thurston (Reece Thompson), a sweet stoner who falls hard and enlists his mother, Enid (Andie McDowell) to cozy up to Caroline’s disapproving father, Mr. Wexler (Ted Whittall).

The cast executes their roles perfectly. Thompson, a native Vancouverite, is believably awkward and awed by Dennings’ Caroline, and does a wonderful job exhibiting Thurston’s anger and confusion when he finds out about her betrayal. Lucas, so often cast in good guy roles, tempers his typically sexy charm with a crazy-eyed edge. The unorthodox love triangle nicely mirrors Caroline’s own competing personae of savvy seductress and smart, sad adolescent, and Dennings skillfully moves between the two, conveying Caroline’s sardonic angst with aplomb.

Working from writer-director Michael Goldbach’s confident script, Nation plays up the absurdity of suburbia, artfully blending the line between wickedly funny and tragic. The stories, including that serial killer subplot which haunts the film like a dark shadow, culminate in a twisty, startling conclusion that’s satisfyingly, and fittingly, David Lynch-lite. —Andrea Warner

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