This offbeat drama, about a teenage film snob who works at a video store thinking he’ll earn enough to go to NYU’s film school, is “a gem,” critic Courtney Small writes in Cinemas Axis.
“Pitch perfect,” Darryl Griffiths writes in Movie Marker.
“Can make even a cynical critic like movies again,” Katie Rife writes in IndieWire.
First-time writer-director Chandler Levack’s candid coming-of-age story takes place in 2002. It focuses on socially inept high school senior Lawrence Kweller (Isaiah Lehtinen), a movie-obsessed narcissist.
Lawrence lives in drab, lowly Burlington, Ontario, but dreams of studying filmmaking at New York University’s vibrant, prestigious Tisch School of the Arts. He sees himself as a future esteemed director and screenwriter — if he can go to Tisch.
But he continually struggles against his social anxieties.
Lawrence grudgingly/not grudgingly lives with his widowed mother (Krista Bridges), an unassuming secretary who doesn’t support him the way he would like.
His only real friend is his longtime wingman, Matt (Percy Hynes White), a fellow high school senior.
When Lawrence’s mother tells him she cannot afford to send him to NYU, he gets a part-time job at a local video rental store, Sequels Video, convinced he will earn the $90,000 he would need to go.
Store manager Alana (Romina D’Ugo), who no longer likes movies, shows him the ropes and helps him along, which leads to a complicated relationship.
Alana too is struggling but puts up a good front.
At work and at school, Lawrence pushes his film opinions on people.
When he passes judgment on Sequels customers’ viewing choices, Alana tells him he must also encourage shoppers to rent movies he doesn’t like — “Shrek,” for instance.
As the story evolves, it peels back the emotional layers.
Lawrence shares his hidden insecurities with Alana, and she shares her personal challenges with him.
The 2022 independent film runs 99 minutes and is not rated in the United States. It is rated 14A in Canada. The rating means children under age 14 must be accompanied by an adult.
The film’s four festival and industry honors include Best Film at California’s 2023 Santa Barbara International Film Festival.
The film’s trailer can be found on YouTube at tinyurl.com/ILikeMovies-MoviesWSpirit.
The screening will be followed by a facilitated discussion. Refreshments will be served.
Attendees over age 12 are asked to contribute $10 a person.
Movies With Spirit screenings comply with all federal, state and local health and safety protocols, including those of the screening venues.
The monthly Movies With Spirit series, organized by Gerry Harrington of Kingston, seeks to stimulate people’s sense of joy and wonder, inspire love and compassion, evoke a deepened understanding of people’s integral connection with others and with life itself, and support individual cultures, faith paths and beliefs while simultaneously transcending them.
The films are screened in diverse places of worship and reverence across Ulster and Dutchess counties at 7 p.m., generally on the third Saturday of every month. Movies With Spirit has no religious affiliation.
For more information about “I Like Movies” and the rest of the series, call Harrington at 845-389-9201 or write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Details are also available at facebook.com/MoviesWithSpirit.