Some Freaks

Studio: Good Deed Entertainment
Written and Directed by Ian MacAllister McDonald

Aug 02, 2017 Web Exclusive
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Navigating high school is hard enough. Doing so as a boy with one eye or an overweight transfer student is quasi-Sisyphean, yet that’s exactly what Matt and Jill, respectively, do in Ian MacAllister McDonald’s debut film, Some Freaks. Having lost his eye due to an accident while much younger, Matt (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’s Thomas Mann) has become the perpetual butt of every joke, jab, and jest at his school. His is a fate he has long-since resigned himself to—unwanted by girls, bullied by boys, and friendless, save for Elmo (Ely Henry), who suffers from his unrequited love of other boys at school. Matt and Elmo’s friendship makes teenage life just bearable enough for each boy, and then Jill enters the fold.

Though they’re the same age, Jill (Lily Mae Harrington) is Elmo’s aunt. She has recently moved across the country from California, where her own issues made life on the West Coast untenable for the time being. Despite a rocky first impression, Matt and Jill are soon drawn to one another, and as their romance blossoms, Elmo’s place in their trinity erodes. Whether as three, two, or as individuals, they struggle to find and accept their identities amid the transition from high school to higher education.

Some Freaks is an impressive first film for McDonald (he wrote and directed). Compelling and well paced, it’s supported by a trio of very likable actors portraying complex and sharply crafted characters. Audiences needn’t have had Matt’s or Jill’s or Elmo’s exact identity challenges in high school to recognize the tribulations that stem from growing up any fraction of society’s definition of “different.”  The obstacles each one of them face on a daily basis are genuine and universal. They endear these people to us, and indeed McDonald’s deference to and love for his characters are some of the film’s great strengths. We want to see these people triumph, for them to shed that “freak” outer layer and be simply people—like everyone else. The film takes a dark, although not completely inorganic turn toward the end, however, which simultaneous affords the threesome matriculation to the general population while firmly entrenching them in the world of “otherness.” McDonald’s point, that we’re all freaks, or none of us are, doesn’t deliver complete satisfaction, but it’s a nuanced and pointed statement that lingers long after the end credits stop rolling. 

www.somefreaksthemovie.com

Author rating: 6.5/10

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Average reader rating: 10/10



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