Review: ‘And Then I Go’ will haunt every parent in America.

AND THEN I GO

In the cruel world of junior high, Edwin suffers in a state of anxiety and alienation alongside his only friend, Flake. Misunderstood by their families and demoralized at school daily, their fury simmers quietly until an idea for vengeance offers them a terrifying release. Based on the acclaimed novel “Project X” by Jim Shepard, this unflinching look at adolescence explores how the powerful bonds of childhood friendship and search for belonging can become a matter of life or death.

With two small children, I now have a whole new set of anxiety as I research schools. I remember how bullying affected me when I was middle-school age. But with social media and the lack of consequences I have seen surrounding some children’s behavior, I am increasingly nervous about what my kids are getting themselves into through no fault of their own. My sister is newly a fulltime school counselor. The lack of coping skills and the increase of online harassment makes these kids more vulnerable than ever before. She job has quickly transformed from a few state-mandated cases into the disciplinary dumping ground for her particular administration. The uphill battle keeps getting higher.

The new film And Then I Go looks deep inside the isolation of two young boys as they are tormented by issues at home and school, some of their own doing and some by association. Performances from Melanie Lynskey and Justin Long are equal parts exhausted parents and concerned, loving individuals. They are caught in a cycle of changing behavior typical of their older son’s environment and a second child whose innocence is still intact due to age and personality. You feel for all parties involved and if you’re a parent yourself, can understand the look of desperation and quick jump to judgment.
The anchors of the film are undoubtedly our pair of lost boys, Arman Darbo and Sawyer Barth. These two give performances that will leave you breathless. The emotional depths to which these two have to go are heartbreaking and raw. Some moments are so natural you will wonder if there is a script at all. We will be seeing much more from these two in the future. Tony Hale and Carrie Preston offer us an insight into the minds of school staff and the attention they try to give to all their students. They are in the same mindset as parents emotionally and mentally. Exhaustive attempts to serve each child as an individual either stick or they don’t. All we can do is our best and remember why we do the jobs in the first place.
From the opening voiceover, there is an air of anxiety and melancholy. A deep seeded feeling of dread looms over the film as the plot rolls along. The cinematography and lighting are key to setting the film’s mood and tone. It’s a beautiful thing to behold, truly. While I was able to figure out where the film was headed, I was so invested in the characters that I was rooting for a different outcome throughout. You cannot help but hope that something or someone will intervene. But as a former teacher, I have seen the overcrowding and felt the burnout in taking work home, yet trying desperately to keep track of not only the kids in my own class but others. Resources being slashed left and right doesn’t help administration, teachers, and parents to do their very best. We are only human. I for one will be seeking out Jim Shepard‘s novel, “Project X”, immediately. And Then I Go should be required viewing for every adult in America today.

The Orchard will release AND THEN I GO On Digital and On Demand April 17, 2018.

The film features a stellar cast led by Justin Long (Yoga Hosers, Tusk, Accepted), Melanie Lynskey (“Castle Rock,” “Togetherness,” Heavenly Creatures), Tony Hale (“Arrested Development,” “Veep”), Melonie Diaz (Fruitvale Station, The Belko Experiment), Carrie Preston (“Claws,” “True Blood”), and powerful performances from teenage actors Arman Darbo (Defenders of Life) and Sawyer Barth (Super Dark Times).

 

About Liz Whittemore

Liz grew up in northern Connecticut and was memorizing movie dialogue from Shirley Temple to A Nightmare on Elm Street at a very early age. She will watch just about any film all the way through (no matter how bad) just to prove a point. A loyal New Englander, a lover of Hollywood, and true inhabitant of The Big Apple.