Mel Gibson directs Nick Stahl, himself and Margaret Whitton in this coming of age drama where a troubled boy spends his summer being tutored by the town outcast, a mysterious man whose face and body have been scarred beyond repair.
Now I’ve no doubt that Dead Poets Society is empirically the finer production, but I always had a soft spot for this similar story from since I was a kid. Mel stretches himself acting (probably his best dramatic performance) and tries the director’s chair out for the first time. He has proven a dab hand behind the camera ever since – with all his oeuvre sharing a melodramatic tone, a taste for body horror violence and a rebellious humanity that few other modern directors seem interested in. If your very worst film is the all out experiential assault of The Passion then you are a pretty consistent, noteworthy auteur in my opinion. Here’s a movie that never allows its inherent schmaltz enough room to overtake the fine acting and production values, always going for the tougher narrative decisions and therefore yielding some pretty impressive, psychologically astute moments in the heartbreaking last act. Well worth hunting down if you missed out on it back in the day.
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We also do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here https://letterboxd.com/bobbycarroll/list/the-worst-movies-we-own-podcast-ranking-and/