Film Title: As You Are
Director: Miles Joris-Peyrafitte
Release Date: February 24, 2017
Main Characters: Jack played by Owen Campbell, Mark played by Charlie Heaton, and Sarah played by Amandla Stenberg
I heard about this movie after watching the film Everything, Everything. I really enjoyed Amandla Stenberg’s performance and so I followed her on Instagram, as you do now, and saw the trailer clip for this lesser-known film, As You Are. I also immediately noticed that it starred Charlie Heaton from Stranger Things. If that wasn’t enough for me, it also had both a 90s setting and the indie vibes I love getting from a movie.
The movie begins with a foreshadowing as one of the characters studies himself in the mirror. It looks like he’s been beat up-he’s got a busted lip and a bruised eye. Then we’re taken over to a field and we hear a terrifying noise just for a second before we’re flipped into the present. The story is essentially about a seemingly normal, high school boy, Jack, who is a little bit on the shy side. He lives with only his mom until she gets a new boyfriend and he and his son, Mark, move into their small home. The movie evolves as the main character creates a dynamic group of 3 friends, but there’s also a darkly, twisted undertone, as the present is wound with flashback scenes of the characters in an interrogation room. You’ll find yourself wondering what the outcome is, and why.
As I mentioned before, the film is set in the 90s and so there are no cellphones, laptops, all of that technology that turns characters and people into couch potatoes. Instead, there’s a lot of marijuana and outdoor scenes beneath the sky and in rivers. I loved getting to see the group of characters just finding ways to fill their time, and never actually being bored, but really in the present moment soaking up their surroundings and each other. In some ways, the 3 characters didn’t seem like they’d fit together, but they each played an essential role in revealing each other’s personalities, and they were so comfortable around each other that I could only watch in admiration. There becomes pressure from one of the parents and you can see the detrimental relationship between an abusive parent and child, no matter how big or small the inciting situation.
I would like to mention that I think each of the actors did an incredible job of portraying their characters. Though I’d seen Heaton and Stenberg act before, I was able to think of them as completely new people.I was even more surprised at how well Campbell did since I’d never seen him act before. Because the film is so closely focused on the friends’ relationship, the dialogue and the authenticity of the words each person is saying is extremely important, and I felt that the actors did so well at making every word ring true. In terms of the other actors, I felt that Scott Cohen and Mary Stuart Masterson, who played Jack’s mom and Mark’s dad could have been better. Their characters are written to be pretty cheesy and over the top at times, but I think that was purposeful and helped to make some commentary on how the actions of parents can sometimes affect their child.
There’s also a great tie-in of music with the film. I don’t want to give it away, but in the film, the main character mourns the loss of an artist and his mood and you can see the world around him become almost reflected by his feelings of loss. Aside from the character’s particular music taste, the film, in general, had a lot of great songs that kept within the indie genre and molded with each emotion that played out. At the end of the film played the song Appalachian Moon by Kevin Reilly. This piece is so wonderful and felt perfect for the ending that leaves you thinking long after you’ve shut it off.