his thumb again"
At seventeen years old, Justin (Pucci) really doesn't know
what he is doing. His father is becoming more and more disappointed with
him, his teacher knows that he has so much more to contribute in class,
his mother is getting more and more distant, his orthodontist thinks he
understands his problems and he doesn't know were he is with the girl he
really likes. Not knowing what to do about anything, Justin just shuts himself
away and sucks his thumb.
Independent film has always been the breeding grown for fresh
talent and human stories and 'Thumbsucker' is no exception to this rule.
Based on the novel by Walter Kirn, the main theme of the movie
is a teenager coming of age, standard fair for many a film over the years
but 'Thumbsucker' is very different. Justin isn't your typical complicated
teen. While he still has the usual problems associated with growing up like
peer pressure, high school and girls, Justin has been hiding away all his
life and now he is about discover what is out there.
The film is about awaking up to life and embracing it, instead
of shying away. When Justin shies away however, he reverts back to his early
childhood and embraces a habit that he has never been able to give up, sucking
his thumb. When things get far too much for him, he finds comfort in sucking
his thumb but this is a habit that he is embarrassed of and one that his
family, especially his father, find just as embarrassing.
The thumb sucking might be the underlying theme of the film
but in fact it is only the embodiment of his fear and a way of blanking
out all of his troubles. Justin problems are the same as any other teenager
but he chooses to deal with them all at once after deciding to forgo his
one comfort in life, his thumb. He needs to forge a relationship with his
parents, dedicate himself to his studies and discover love and sex for the
first time. Along the way he learns the lessons that will start him on the
path to adulthood and his is the heart and soul of the movie.
An excellent coming of age story would be nothing without
an outstanding ensemble cast to bring it to life. Writer/director Mike Mills
has gathered together some big names and some accomplished character actors
to breath life into the characters. Vincent D'Onofrio and Tilda Swinton
are excellent as Justin's parents Mike and Audrey, two people who are still
finding themselves and struggling to be parents, even not having Justin
and his younger brother call them Mom and Dad. It is easy to forget that
Vince Vaughn is an actor of talent and as English teacher Mr. Geary he gets
that chance to shine. Keanu Reeves throughout his career has tried to appear
in smaller budget, character driven pieces has might finally give him the
chance to prove that his can actually act and he might have actually found
one. As new age orthodontist Perry Lyman, he creates a character that grows
as much as Justin throughout the film.
It is the young actors that make the biggest impact however.
Kelli Garner is outstanding as the object of Justin's affections Rebecca.
She is just as troubled as Justin but goes about changing her life in a
very different way. This is a breakout role for the young actress and one
that will get her noticed. The star of the show however is Lou Pucci as
Justin. This is a complicated and engrossing role and one that most men
and teenagers will be able to relate to. He portrays Justin's problems with
the utmost reality, producing a role that could be a defining one for coming
of age movies.
'Thumbsucker' is the epitome of coming of age movies for the
new millennium. It captures all the doubts and fears that we all go through
at that age and however old you are you cannot but help connect with Justin
in some way. This is one of those movies that will stay with you for a very
Presented in Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1 with Dolby Digital
5.1, the movie is presented well.
Audio commentary with director Mike Mills
Slightly nervous about doing his first audio commentary, the screenwriter/director
Mike Mills provides an informative and insightful commentary for 'Thumbsucker'.
He outlines what drew him to the story and the seven-year journey to the
silver screen. He talks about the family dynamic and the characters of the
piece. He also reveals how the film was shot chronologically, the chemistry
between Jason and Rebecca and how the Polyphonic Spree provided the soundtrack.
This is a good commentary from a debutant.
Behind the scene documentary (21.49 mins)
Director Mike Mills, producer Bob Stephenson, author Walter Kirn and stars
Lou Pucci, Tilda Swinton, Kelli Garner, Vincent D'Onofrio and Keanu Reeves
the group talk about bringing 'Thumbsucker' to the silver screen. With behind
the scenes footage, we see how the book was adapted for cinema and what
attracted the director and actors to the story. The featurette also looks
at the characters and what the actors bring to the roles.
Interview with writer/director Mike Mills (41.35 mins)
The director is joined by 'Thumbsucker' author Walter Kirn to talk about
adapting the book into a screenplay. The pair talks honestly about the movie,
as the director reveals what attracted him to the book and how he saw Justin's
coming of age story. This is an interesting conversation and a fascinating
insight into low budget filmmaking.
Insert the DVD into your PC and read the director's Blog
Previews of 'Lords of Dogtown', 'Ringers: Lord of the Fans', 'Saving Face'
For a low budget film, the DVD transfer is good. The featurettes
and interviews offer an insight into low budget filmmaking and the commentary
track is very good. Fans of the movie should be very pleased with this DVD.
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