By Ben Tricklebank | Drama
A 14-year-old is expected to be a man. But he doesn't want to grow up that way.
Jake is 14 years old, and on his way to spend time with his father, Danny. Sullen and withdrawn, he’s reluctant to talk much with his father, much less bond with him, but still, he remains loyal and puts in the time.
As they drive off to their planned activity, they make stilted conversation. Jake’s father is loose and jovial, but underneath he is bitter towards Jake’s mother and her new partner, as well as the stable new home they’ve built together. He’s also dismissive of Jake, though he has a clear affection for his son. But just as they arrive at their destination, Jake’s father reaches out and finally gives his son the love and understanding he needs.
Directed by Ben Tricklebank from a script co-written with James Gould-Bourn, this moody, textured Oscar-qualifying drama is a portrait of the uneasy, challenging relationship between a father and son, captured in burnished, beautiful cinematography, powerfully understated performances and sparing but evocative storytelling.
The dialogue masterfully captures how Danny’s conversation dominates over his son, leaving little room for Jake’s own experience and perspective. It’s full of ideas of what being a grown man should and should not do, as well as emotional minefields about family, his mother and Jake’s home with her. As they race through the arid landscape, they also speed towards a turning point in their relationship — one equal parts heartwarming and horrifying, as we discover just what kind of influence Danny is on his “champ.”
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