Monday, February 1, 2010

Somersault

Very few movies accurately capture the feeling of growing into one's own skin. I often feel like "coming-to-age" stories are too cheesy or too melodramatic. While that's all well and good in some film, in others a more delicate hand would better show the nuances of different relationships and how we come to understand ourselves.

Somersault is one of the few that does it right though in my opinion.



Best summation I've read (from cinema blend):
Somersault tells the tale of Heidi (Abbie Cornish), a 16 year old girl who for reasons known only to herself, makes sexual advances towards her mother’s boyfriend when mommy leaves for work one day. When mom unexpectedly walks in on them and naturally freaks Heidi leaves home, fleeing north in search of a promised job, which never emerges. Stranding herself in a small skiing town, she is taken in by a gruff but kindly motel owner (Lynette Curran) and searches for work while engaging in random and increasingly exploitative sexual encounters with the local men-folk under the guise of looking for intimacy. When she meets Joe (Sam Worthington), the twenty-something son of a wealthy local farmer, she may have found someone to connect with, but Joe’s own inability to express his feelings class divides and Heidi’s erratic behavior threaten their new “relationship.”

For me this was really a story that speaks to the differences between sex and love. Beyond that, it also made me think of how we sometimes trade sex for intimacy even though we know they are not the same thing. I think this is at the heart of Heidi's behavior and it's heartbreaking at times to watch.

There are some people who bitch and moan a lot about the plot (since not that much actually happens), but this isn't something I minded at all. Similar to how some books are plot driven and some are character driven, this movie is very much the latter. To be honest, like most good "coming-to-age" stories, a lot of what goes on we don't actual see. What Heidi experiences is an internal struggle.

I do need to point out that there are a lot of secondary characters that are overlooked. I think this was the most frustrating part of this film for me since I kept wanting more from their stories. But in the end, ultimately this is Heidi's story and I thought it was just brilliant. Abbie Cornish is so amazing and I don't think this film would be what it is with any other actress playing the part. She just exuded this naive vulnerability that was completely believable. At times she was extraordinarily beautiful but at other times she looked like she could be any one's daughter (albeit any one's very attractive daughter).

Trailer:



This is the kind of film that makes you think about all the dumb shit you did as a teenager when all you wanted was a place to belong or someone to love. While it's not always the most comfortable thing to be reminded of, it is incredibly touching.

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