Whole New Thing Movie Review
Cast & Crew
Director : Amnon Buchbinder
Producer : Kelly Bray, Camelia Frieberg,
Screenwriter : Amnon Buchbinder, Daniel MacIvor,
Thirteen-year-old Emerson (Aaron Weber) lives in a hand-crafted Nova Scotia home with his ex-hippie environmentalist parents and has been home-schooled in their free-thinking style all his life. Family bonding consists of naked saunas, and Emerson calls his parents by their first names, Rog (Robert Joy) and Kaya (Rebecca Jenkins).
Now that Emerson is of middle-school age, Kaya decides to enroll him in public school. He hates the idea, and you can see why. Super-smart and articulate (and somewhat stuck-up), Emerson, who has long hair and is androgynously beautiful in a pre-Raphaelite way, is more interested in writing epic fantasy novels by hand than participating in the idiotic banter of typical teens. It's no surprise that he gets his first punch in the face within a few hours of starting school. The kids have never seen anything quite like him.
Only Aaron's English teacher, the closeted Don Grant (Daniel MacIvor), captures his interest, and for his part, Mr. Grant is excited to have a smart kid in class, one who suggests that they chuck the required reading (Snowboard Snowjob) and read Shakespeare instead. But it isn't long before Emerson is connecting his interest in English class with an increase in the frequency of his nocturnal emissions, which, it should be noted, are something he and his parents feel quite free to discuss openly.
Emerson may be smart, but his increasingly single-minded quest for Mr. Grant's affections is very stupid, something Mr. Grant tries again and again to tell him. The last thing he wants is to get Shakespeare love sonnets from Emerson in his mailbox, and an ill-advised visit to Emerson's house ends up with Emerson making a clumsy pass at him in the sauna.
At the same time, Mr. Grant is dealing with loneliness and the aftermath of a ruined relationship, and Rog and Kaya are having marital difficulties. The movie could head down a path toward comical sexy hijinks or toward a small-town statutory rape scandal, but it does neither, staying really real and focusing the painful adjustments all the characters will have to make if they're going to make it through these moments of crisis and find their ways to a "whole new thing."
Performances are terrific all around, and it seems a marvelous stroke of luck that the Nova Scotia theater scene, which can't be that big, produced a child actor as poised as Weber. This isn't easy material, and he handles it with aplomb, as does MacIvor, whose emotional desolation is easy to read in his eyes. Whole New Thing is a small-scale film with big emotional payoffs.
Is it hot in here or is it just that suit?
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