"The film is not only highly relatable, it is also perfectly paced."
It's not unusual for a film to have protagonists to root for, but The Age of Reason's young characters stand out in an increasingly cynical world. While YA fiction is certainly hot, and there isn't a shortage of pop culture geared toward youth, teens and kids often get a bad rap, coming off as apathetic or bratty. The Age of Reason avoids these clichés and instead focuses on good kids stuck in difficult situations, which not only creates a strong voice for the young protagonists, but creates a rich drama that offers something for a variety of audiences, both teen and adult.
The film follows friends Oz and Freddy over the period of a weekend, but they aren't experiencing a typical weekend, nor are they gearing up for the party of a lifetime. Instead, the two are in the middle of transition, particularly Oz, who is facing difficulties at home that create a major dilemma. Oz knows he wants to play baseball, but a rocky home life with his alcoholic father leaves him in a tricky situation, further complicated by the fact that if he does leave then he will have to leave his younger sister behind.
Oz and Freddy are also joined in their struggles by their new friend Ruby, and the three of them become a support system for each other. This support is one of the strongest parts of the film. Rather than competing with each other, or avoiding people whose problems just might be worse than their own, they offer each other something that each feels is missing. This kinship is clearly a bright spot in their lives, and it illustrates that youth really isn't wasted on the young.
The film works for many reasons, not the least of which is the superb casting. Tom Sizemore plays Oz' alcoholic father, Robert, a role that won him Best Supporting Actor at the Independent Filmmakers' Showcase. Oz and Freddy are played by Myles Tufts and Blake Sheldon, respectively, and their performances in this film are sure to catch attention. Their characters feel developed even after the first scene, a tribute to their performances along with the writing and direction by Andrew Schrader and Jordan Harris.
The film is able to deal with some dark subjects and tumultuous times without ever feeling too heavy handed. There is even a dose of magic realism in the film that adds an extra layer to the story while also creating a beautiful moment to break through some of the darkness. And I don't want to imply that the film itself is incredibly dark. While these characters do face tough situations, there is always an underlying sense of hope, and that hope is what makes this film stand out. In a sea of “gritty” reboots and real-life news that is often filled with dread, The Age of Reason provides a sense of comfort. Yes, life has its difficult times, and this film doesn't shy away from them, but the film strives to show that there are also moments of relief, and that with the right people and the right mindset, or maybe even a new view on things, we can persevere and perhaps even come out better.
The film is not only highly relatable, it is also perfectly paced. The weekend time frame allows each character to be fully developed. No plot point seems insignificant. The film never feels slow or plodding, but that doesn't mean that there are lots of quick cuts and jumps in the narrative. Characters are given the time to express their emotions, and they actually have conversations. This idea might not seem unique, but it seems like this type of development is often eschewed for flashy cuts and fast-paced plot devices used in hopes that the audience won't lose attention. But The Age of Reason is able to avoid these gimmicks and still be engaging.
The Age of Reason is not only for fans of teenage dramas, but for fans of good stories with compelling characters. It is definitely a must-see film.
Read my interview with Jordan Harris & Andrew Schrader here
Review by Entertainment Writer & Film Critic, Bethany RoseShare: