AccessReel Reviews - Wasted On The Young

By: Joel Cook | Posted: 14th March 2011

Darren (Ackland) is the stepbrother of Zack (Russell) Together go to an elite co-ed secondary school. The stepbrothers have got very little in common. Darren is an innovative computer geek who seems to be pretty socially inept. Zack is surely an A-type personality who exists to rule other people. He's captain of this schools swimming team. He bullies Darren and manipulates his own clique. He's king of the well known students. A single person who's safe from Zack's charms is Xandrie (Clemens). She is an independent young woman who has got her eye on Darren.

Zack invites Xandrie to a social gathering at his home. She is quickly out of her depth. The events that take place feed the school rumour mill. Swiftly everyone has a viewpoint about what occured as well as who did what to whom. Because of the velocity and reach of social networking a critical incident immediately ends up being a matter of gossip and conjecture. This causes a serious escalation of emotions and subsequent actions.

WASTED ON THE YOUNG is the tale of kids being permitted adult freedoms before they have developed the understanding and obligation to deal with them. In this perception it is just a typical cautionary tale. The line in between child and adult is really a blurry one and no one goes through this particular transition with out substantial pain and humiliation. Nevertheless, within this tale the most popular kids from the swim team and their particular hangers-on are not simply causing greater pain to others they've become a law unto themselves.

The movie develops in the teenage universe. The over-privileged kids have absent mothers and fathers. In fact we're not ever shown adult mentors of any kind. Writer and director Ben C. Lucas has explained there was a scene with a teacher, but it was cut mainly because it stood out from the rest of the picture. This particular choice results in a hermetically sealed atmosphere where youthful angst is the norm. The audience sees no modifying mature influence, so the mood swings and drama of teenage life become the reality of the tale.

Lucas takes our knowledge of stories like the 2006 case of the Duke University lacrosse players who were accused of rape and he has investigated the consequences of such events. The movie looks at the idea that a group at the top of the social hierarchy can commit an offence and avoid punishment. As the character of Xandrie highlights, this scenario exists simply because those lower down on the ladder let it continue.

The film features a stunning colour palette which gives a lot of the scenes a very nice, metallic feel. The underwater scenes while in the school swimming pool possess particular visual impact. The powerful look of the movie mixes with a layered soundscape of screeching technology and pulsing electronic digital music; a computer or a cellular phone is always generating an alert sound. The background music fills the emptiness of the designer spaces. The result is an intense and disorienting atmosphere that helps to keep us somewhat distanced from the characters.

Lucas elicits excellent performances from his young cast list. Oliver Ackland, Adelaide Clemens and Alex Russell are very effective as the leads. T.J. Power as the swimming team's enforcer flawlessly embodies the part of unthinking thug.

Sometimes, I was annoyed by the passivity with the character of Darren, however this is really a essential element of the story - the movie overtly asks the question: what's the difference between an onlooker to a crime and an accomplice? Furthermore, I believe that my feeling is a result of putting a grownup worldview and judgment on the youthful characters. In this way, WASTED IN THE YOUNG seems properly aimed towards a youthful target audience. They'll promptly comprehend the emotionally charged hothouse atmosphere.

Eventhough it is great to see an Aussie tackle a dark teen-themed tale, the film doesn't pander to us by creating an overtly Australian identity. It's shot in Perth, but could be set in any of the capitals. The personalities speak with Australian accents, nonetheless the story provides appeal beyond our borders.

WASTED ON THE YOUNG runs for 97 min's. It opens on Aussie movie theaters on Thursday 3rd May. I rated it 3/5.

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Tags: social networking, mothers and fathers, conjecture, hangers, secondary school, escalation, humiliation, co ed