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chronicle

Chronicle

It's such a thrill when a film I haven't heard about, let alone had any expectations of, appears unannounced and turns out to be really good. This cinema-verite comedy/scifi drama is funny, enthralling and surprisingly coherent. You might just enjoy it a lot more than you would think. I did.

There is a guy called Andrew, a high school kid of about 17, who is an outsider, with a dying mother and an angry father. He is made fun of at school, and his only companion is his cousin Matt who drives him to school. Andrew has bought himself a camera with which he records everything - including Matt driving him to school. It's rather geeky and irritating, but it does mean that there is a film here.

Matt takes Andrew to a party and then Matt's friend Steve, the popular guy at school, joins them in exploring down a hole and discover some weird glowing stuff, which - it turns out - gives them telekinetic and teleportation powers. In other words, they can move objects, and move themselves. They are, in effect, junior superheroes. But given their age and mentality, they prefer to mess with people rather than save the world from supervillains. In fact they keep the secret to themselves, preferring to horse around privately.

This first part of the film is really very funny, since it's much easier to imagine having fun moving people's cars when they aren't looking, than it is hurling vehicles fifty foot into the air, while giant robot monsters clatter down the street. The success of the film is to ground the supernatural in the everyday, so that while we know that we are not watching a documentary, it all feels very real. Nothing is shown which is not filmed by either Andrew's camera (and he soon learns to let the camera film from mid air), or by another camera belonging to Matt's ex-girlfriend  Casey, which conveniently allows an alternative point of view. Towards the end of the film, there is some CCTV footage, but essentially the fiction of all the camerawork being within the context of the film is maintained throughout.

What impressed me most was the quality of the script, the naturalness of the acting and the plausibility of the special effects. It looks like a cheap Blair Witch, Catfish kind of movie, but as the mayhem mounts, I never saw anything that didn't ring true in terms of scientifically impossible things happening. You can pick holes in one or two elements in the narrative, mainly at the point at which things stop being fun and start getting heavy - and we all know that's a hard one to pull off - but by and large I would give it a big recommendation to anyone who likes films that defy predictable genre categorisation. It's a one off.

7/10

Phil Raby

Front Row Films

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