Twelve and Holding

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The ViewAuckland Review

Review byMatthew Turner8/11/2006

Five out of Five stars
Running time: 95 mins

Beautifully directed, superbly written and thoroughly engaging drama with impeccable performances from its three young leads.

What's it all about?
Directed by Michael Cuesta (who made L.I.E), Twelve and Holding stars Conor Donovan as Jacob, a shy 12 year-old boy with a port-wine stain on his face, whose charismatic twin brother Rudy is killed in a traumatic tree house fire caused by some neighbourhood bullies. The film then follows the impact of Rudy's death on his small circle of friends, including neglected psychiatrist's daughter Malee (Zoe Weizenbaum) and overweight Leonard (Jesse Camacho).

Malee develops a huge crush on one of her mother's patients (Jeremy Renner, in what can only be described as the Sam Rockwell role) while Leonard decides to rebel against his overweight family and get into shape. Meanwhile, Jacob plots revenge on the two bullies that started the fire.

The Good
The performances are terrific – these are characters you genuinely care about and Cuesta's superb direction really exploits that, ensuring that there's at least one hold-your-breath-in-fear moment for each of them. Donovan, in particular, is a real find, while Weizenbaum almost steals the entire film with her talent show rendition of a Blue Oyster Cult song.

Of the supporting cast, Jeremy Renner is easily the stand-out in a complex part, but there's also good work from Annabella Sciorra (as Malee's mother) and from Jayne Atkinson as Jacob's spectacularly clueless mother.

The Great
The film's strength is in the realistic portrayal of the kids as intelligent, complex characters with real problems, rather than the usual wisecracking brats we're used to. To that end, the script is superb, achieving an effective balance between scenes that are darkly funny and frequently disturbing, while the climax is nothing short of devastating.

Worth seeing?
Impressively directed and superbly acted, this is a darkly funny, deeply disturbing and ultimately moving drama that will stay with you long after you leave the cinema. One of the films of the year. Unmissable.

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Content updated: 22/10/2019 05:50

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