Director Jacob Estes's feature film debut is a remarkably accomplished coming of age drama about death and consequences. When overweight, emotionally troubled George (Josh Peck) beats up a smaller kid named Sam (Rory Culkin) one time too many, his older brother Rocky (Trevor Morgan) and Rocky's wrong-side-of-the-tracks pal (Scott Mechlowicz) decide to teach George a lesson.
Along with their friend, Clyde (Ryan Kelley), who was once the brunt of George's violence himself, they bring George on a boat trip with a cruel prank in mind. Sam brings his love interest, Milly (Carly Schroeder), who tries to stop the plan when she decides George is a nice guy after all. Tragic things happen nonetheless with the slow, languid rhythm of life in a small Oregon town.
Along the way, Estes manages to capture many fine moments of poetic realism like the stillness of the forest around the river, the swirling eddies along the shore, a snail crawling along a leaf, and a drowning video camera.
Cinematographer Sharone Meir uses colour filters and washed-out film stock to make everything glow with faded colours like old family photographs. The dialogue feels natural and the acting is precise; Estes obviously loves his cast and allows plenty of time and space for their characters to breathe, think, and be the confused kids they're meant to be.
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