Some Freaks Reminds Us That Normal is Overrated

Poster of Some Freaks

Written by Tristan Olav Torgersen
Originally posted on IndieEntertainmentMagazine.com
August 17, 2017

It’s a story unlike so many films focused on high school love and a coming of age. A self-conscious teenager with an eye-patch has a best friend who is gay and has a secret crush on the star of the school’s men’s basketball team. His overweight cousin moves in., and both she and eye patch fall for each other. Not your typical storyline, to say the least.

While Some Freaks is Ian MacAllister-McDonald’s directorial feature-length debut, it feels less like an introductory work and more like a refined piece fit for the big screen.

The cast draws the audience in due to their awkward yet endearing charm about them which turns an opportunity for pity into a journey of self-love. The youthful cast is not without experience yet they have not become household Hollywood names yet either.

Thomas Mann is the more recognized of the young trio of leads, and his previous major roles include Kong: Skull Island (2017), Project X (2012), and one of my personal favorites, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (2015). While Mann is the supposed lead of the leads (if that makes any sense at all) as Matt, the film shifts focus throughout and toys with the audience’s assumed bias and perspective.

His friend Elmo Moss is played by Ely Henry. His character’s complexity builds throughout the film as the audience gets to experience scenes in which his sexual identity interferes with his public identity, and the interplay between he and Matt and best friends of different sexual preferences.

The character who really stole the show was Lily Mae Harrington as Jill Delisle. Jill is Elmo’s cousin, and she moves in with Elmo and attends school with him. She and Matt meet in a chemistry class and quickly it becomes apparent that they have more in common than a distaste for school, and a weird yet cute romance develops before the audience’s eyes.

Now, this film is definitely pulled a fast one on me. In reading the plot summary and watching the trailer, I expected an emotional yet resolved love story between two teens. This is not the case. Now, I will not spoil any part of the movie, and I hope that my word of caution does not deter anyone from watching the film, but rather inspires more to give it a watch.

I believe that the rising generation, as well as those waxing older and wiser, need a good film to bring them back to reality at times. This film does just that! There are no calm resolutions, simple solutions, and clear explanations as to what happens.

Instead, McDonald’s use of time in the film aid his story-telling as the audience watches the beginning part of Matt and Jill’s story, then six weeks later, and finally six months later. Rather than focus too heavily on one short period of time or utilize cliché time passage montages, he cuts cleanly to each point in order to tell a wider ranged story that feels more lifelike.

The beauty of the film and the reason it has won 9 awards and been nominated 4 other times at festivals becomes apparent by the end of the film.

Ian MacAllister-McDonald is not delivering a comfortable, clean-cut, and universally relative narrative. Instead, he pushes the boundaries and opens the audience to worlds, perspectives, and viewpoints as unique as they are brutally honest.

What is it like to have one eye and wear an eye-patch?
What is it like to be a female in high school and face the bullying and body image dilemmas in our day and age?
How does a teen who is gay properly handle and express their feelings for someone they find attractive?
What should influence us to make a change in our personality, our appearance, or our temperament?
What do we do when someone changes in a way that affects our relationship to them?

The movie left me feeling unsettled and accepted all at once. Its message and the emotions it has evoked have persisted with me throughout the past week and a half, and I feel that my perspective has changed. Films like these don’t get released every month, few months, or even every year. If only to serve as a buffer to the numerous superhero flicks this year, watch this film.

Mohsin Ahmed, a Pakistani novelist and writer, remarked that, “Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself.” Even if you do not wear an eye patch, have body image issues, or anxieties about your sexual preference, you will develop some empathy from this film by watching it with an open mind and open heart.

Life can suck, and this film makes that clear. All the same, between the minutiae, mundanity, mediocrity, and mistakes of life, we have a chance to find ourselves and accept who we are.

And Some Freaks makes its point clear: who wants to be ‘normal’ anyways?

Poster of Some Freaks

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