Film Festival Movie Review

Film Review: AND THEN I GO: An Unflinching Drama That Hesitates At The End [LA Film Festival 2017]

Arman Darbo Sawyer Barth And Then I Go

And Then I Go Review

And Then I Go (2017) Film Review from the 23rd Annual Los Angeles Film Festival, a movie directed by Vincent Grashaw, starring Arman Darbo, Sawyer Barth, Melanie Lynskey, Justin Long, Tony Hale, Carrie Preston, Melonie Diaz, Royalty Hightower, Dallas Edwards, Phebe Cox, Kannon Hicks, Michael Abbott Jr., Sean Bridgers, Hunter Trammel, and Steele Whitney.

With the unpleasant place they occupy in the popular imagination, it is surprising that there aren’t more movies about school shootings. It’s not that we as a society are afraid to talk about them – coverage of such tragedies usually dominates the media when they occur despite them accounting for a negligible amount of total gun-related violence – rather, it seems like many who try to explain the problem buy into many of the misconceptions surrounding school shootings themselves. It is this pitfall that Vincent Grashaw admirably tries to avoid falling into in And Then I Go.

Following the life of a middle school outcast named Edwin (Arman Darbo), the audience spends much of the time seeing him interact with bullies, irritated teachers, and unhelpful parents but mostly Roddy (Sawyer Barth), his only real friend who talks him into joining him in his plan to massacre their classmates. As such, the movie lives but doesn’t die by the very capable performances of its two young leads, who bring a nuance to their roles that should as an inspiration to older, more experienced actors as well as their contemporaries. The adult characters are also handled well, with Justin Long and Tony Hale turning in surprisingly-effective performances as Edwin’s father and the vice principal respectively, both of whom are alternatively concerned and frustrated by the boy.

These strengths make the movie’s lackluster ending all the more disappointing. After spending the entire film building up to Edwin and Roddy’s killing spree, we don’t even get a good look at said spree. Oh sure, we hear Roddy fire his weapon and the students and teachers scream in surprise and terror, but the camera swiftly cuts away from him as he fires at the crowd to Edwin’s shocked reaction, almost as if the director wanted to spare us the unseemly sight of children, some of whom aren’t even teens, being gunned down. This is an understandable reservation on the movie’s part, but considering that it spent the previous hour and a half showing the violence and cruelty done to and by children, it comes across as a loss of faith on the film’s part in its subject matter and feels more like last minute hesitation than carefully considered prudence.

Indeed, the only casualty we see is Roddy himself, denied the dignity of a memorable death when he is shot off-screen by responding police and a devastated Edwin watches. Maybe the filmmakers were worried that showing Roddy going down in a blaze of glory would inspire copycat killers, but such a move undermines one of the movie’s apparent themes: at the end of the day, it is we, and not the people who make fun of us in school, the parents who neglect us, or yes, the media we consume, who are responsible for who we are. Perhaps this is why Edwin, who is too overwhelmed by the horror of his and Roddy’s scheme once it unfolds to actually participate in it, is still alive at the end of the film.

As unsatisfying as the ending may be, And Then I Go is a fresh, well-acted take on an all-too familiar, all-too topical story and is sure to generate discussion about itself as well as the issues it addresses.

Rating: 7/10

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About the author

Reggie Peralta

An aspiring writer, longtime film junkie, and former UCLARadio.com disc jockey (where I graduated with a BA in Political Science), I've made the jump from penning book reviews and current events editorials for HonorSociety.org to writing movie and TV news and reviews.

When I'm not working towards my certificate in Radio and Television/Video Production at Fullerton College, I enjoy reading (horror, science fiction, and historical/political nonfiction are particular favorites), participating in my school's TV and theatre clubs, attending movie screenings, plays, concerts, and other events, and trying to come up with pithy things to say on social media. Believe it or not, there are occasions where I find time to write for my own leisure.

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