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Afterschool


None September 15th, 2010

Antonio Campos, report for detention, please. The offense? Cinematic pretentiousness.

The 20-something writer/director/editor makes his feature-length debut with "Afterschool," a prep-school drama with very little drama. That such a decision appears to be intentional is all the more aggravating.

Robert (Ezra Miller, TV's "Royal Pains") is a porn-addicted little twerp who lives his life through the lens of his ever-present video camera and whose roomie deals drugs to their fellow "clean-cut" students. Said camera catches the fatal overdose of twin girls in the school's hallways, and Robert is charged, ironically enough, with creating a tribute video to the fallen sisters.

In between a lot of dead air, the kids talk cruelly to one another about sex. While these conversations are pretty realistic, they do nothing to advance a narrative, and everything to make you despise the characters more.

"A Serious Man" headliner Michael Stuhlbarg turns in good work as the man in charge, but the usually luminous Rosemarie DeWitt (TV's "United States of Tara") is utterly underutilized. Even if she were in every scene, she could not save it, as the film meanders. Campos shoots with a static eye and often keeps his subject out of frame, as if he were removed from an arm's length, as his YouTube-gen characters are from reality. Trouble is, it separates the viewer as well.

At one point, our protagonist (?) is told, "Is there something wrong with you, Robert? I'm no editor, but that was probably the worst thing I've ever seen." While "the worst" is stretching it in this case, the viewer can relate.

Is "Afterschool" art or just amateurish? Either way, it rings pointless and hollow. "”Rod Lott
 
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