High School Redux
How would you like to repeat your senior year in high school? If you enjoyed your first experience that might be something fun to do. But Claire, the main character in Picture Day, doesn’t feel the same way about it. She’s a rebellious teenager forced into this second go-round who finds herself between adolescence and adulthood as well as between different admirers -- an older musician and a nerdy student she used to tutor. This unusual coming-of-age comedy boasts excellent character development and involving performances. I think writer/producer/director Kate Melville has every right to be proud of her debut feature film.
First of all, Melville made a wise decision in casting Tatiana Maslany as Claire. Currently wowing viewers as the various clones in BBC America’s Orphan Black TV series, Maslany brings attitude plus to her demanding role here (she’s in every scene). In fact, Melville admits that “Claire” ended up being a collaboration between herself and Maslany. Together they have created a memorable protagonist – a unique young woman who can be infuriating as well as endearing and complex. My heart went out to Claire as I watched her interactions with an emotionally distant mother, and I found the bravado she displays -- in spite of the problems in her life -- quite courageous.
Next, choosing Spencer Van Wyck to play Henry, the high school nerd, was also a smart move. The camera loves this guy – even with his blue hair, and the chemistry between Van Wyck and Maslany cannot be denied, especially in scenes showing Claire trying to help Henry win acceptance by the other students. These two share some funny and tender scenes that add considerably to our viewing pleasure. Bringing his popular music along with him, real-life musician Steven McCarthy rounds out the triangle nicely as the wannabe rock star Claire is involved with.
I’m not surprised that Picture Day earned recognition on the film festival circuit. At the Riverrun International Film Festival, it received an Audience Choice Award, and the movie was named Best New Canadian Feature Film at the Whistler Film Festival.
Although I wouldn’t want to re-do my high school senior year, I welcome the chance to watch Picture Day again. It’s refreshing to see a movie that explores the difference between sex, intimacy and friendship in such a realistic yet entertaining way.
(Released by Ketchup Entertainment and rated “R” for sexual conduct, drug and alcohol use and language -- all involving teens.)
Listen to Kate Melville’s interview on Movie Addict Headquarters by clicking here.