Sometimes, for reasons we cannot fully explain, a film succeeds in ways that neither we, nor the studio, honestly expect. If you want a great example of just this sort of phenomena, look no further that the recently released and poorly named, Chronicle. Shot on an almost ridiculously low budget by a director whose only previous experience was on cable television, it was released in the dead of winter – a time slot usually reserved for films that will soon be making their debut appearance in the remainder bins of your local Walmart.
But Chronicle smartly rises above its humble budget and its inauspicious release date by offering something unusual: a nuanced psychological profile of a teenager struggling to rise above the ruins of his home life. Mashing up the “found footage” and super-hero genres, it wisely avoids the rote stereotypes often found in films of this nature, and instead gives us a briskly paced meditation upon humiliation, empowerment, hubris, and naked aggression.
By the time this pleasant little treat reaches its unexpected climax, the viewer is left wondering whether this might just be one of the more honest portraits of teenaged American life in the 21st century. While the films are miles apart in tonality, one couldn’t help but think back to Diablo Cody’s Juno, an equally insightful look into the mind of modern adolescence.
If you are a fan of the unusual and/or unexpected, I would strongly recommend seeing this film, in spite of its terrible title and its less-than-inspired marketing campaign. This is the kind of film that heralds the arrival of a new talent, and I for one will be eagerly waiting in line when the creators of this film release their next work.
This film has been rated PG-13 by the MPAA for: intense action and violence, thematic material, some language and teenage drinking.