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‘As You Are’ (review)

Produced by Sean Patrick Burke, Justin Lothrop,
Joseph Mastantuono, Brent Stiefel
Written by Miles Joris-Peyrafitte,
Madison Harrison

Directed by Miles Joris-Peyrafitte
Starring Owen Campbell, Charlie Heaton,
Amandla Stenberg, John Scurti,
Scott Cohen, Mary Stuart Masterson

 

As You Are is a gritty snapshot into the lives of three teens. It captures you early because parts of the story only become clear as it is retold through a video camera lens in a police interview.

Writer/Director Miles Joris-Peyrafitte doesn’t hold back. From the very beginning you know something has gone wrong.

The underlying theme to the tone of the film is deep emotional struggle and the cast radiates emotion off the screen.

The teenagers all bring top tier performances as they fight through heavy issues the movie brings to bear.

Heartbreak, abuse, drugs, sexual identity and violence are all recurring themes throughout the film and Joris-Peyrafitte doesn’t shrink one little bit from bringing the pain into our faces through a series of top notch performances.

Owen Campbell’s reserved portrayal of Jack is powerfully effective. It’s obvious to the viewer that he has a deep well of emotions that he is barely controlling and in the moments they erupt onto the screen it’s impossible not to be overtaken by them.

Charlie Heaton is an emerging star because of Netflix’s breakout, Stranger Things, but his dark portrayal of Mark gives us a real view into his range. Mark is all emotion, all the time, just wanting to get to the next high so he doesn’t have to face his tortured reality and emotional turmoil.

Amandla Sternberg, who the world first met as tribute Rue from the Hunger Games rounds out the trio with a heartfelt performance. The now 19 year old Sternberg plays Sarah, friend and romantic interest for both boys. She is a gentle calm between two storms who gets carried along by circumstance.

The supporting cast is strong and extremely competent in their roles as well with a surprise and welcome appearance by Mary Stuart Masterson as Jack’s mom.

From beginning to end As You Are sucks you in. What happened? How? Who did it? Why? The questions bounce around until the heartbreaking end. It is a teen drama wrapped in a mystery coated in anguish and it does not disappoint.

4 out of 5 stars

 

As You Are is now playing in limited release.

 

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