TROUBLE CITY

FESTIVAL REVIEW: 2:37

Movie ReviewsRuss FischerComment

Australia
Murali K Thralluri

While I was in Toronto a Montreal student opened fire in his university, proof that the pressures which created Columbine are everywhere. For much of 2:37, which follows troubled, seemingly normal high school kids for a day, it's easy to infer that Columbine has come to Australia, too.

The lives of these kids intersect in all-too predictable ways in a melodrama that, instead of generating insight, only fosters ennui. A seemingly wealthy, upper middle class school is populated with the classic personalities: the bulimic hottie, the outcast, the secretly gay jock, the nice but neglected girl. We get to know them through confessional video interviews and dramatic interaction.

Director Murali K Thralluri effectively portrays simultaneous events from different perspectives, but he can't keep the film from veering into treacle as every student within his line of sight seems to be dangerously unbalanced.

There are links to the classic locked-room mystery. The film opens with one of the kids -- we don't see which -- dead in a locked bathroom. Who is it, and was the violence self-inflicted or social? In the end it doesn't matter, as the film's structure is a bait and switch meant to prove that even the kids in the background have problems.

And then the incest comes into play, in a fit of plotting that feels like the product of a weekend-long Larry Clarke binge by Thaluri. Suddenly these kids aren't just typical and troubled; they're pages in the high school version of a D&D bestiary, where every individual is a little more horrifying than the last.

The film is splashed with sensationalist elements (incest being the standout) and incorporates confessional narratives in an attempt to give the story both a cutting edge and grounded appeal. Neither one brings enough truth or humanity to this story, however, and 2:37 finally betrays a skillfully constructed timeline with unnecessary hyperbole.

4.5 out of 10