Watercolors

Watercolors

**

Reviewed by: Hannah Clark

The exploration of teenage sexuality is at the heart of a story which is a derivative of many films before it. Carter is a swimmer from a dysfunctional family, flitting from one town to another, who finds himself settled for the weekend with a friend of his father's. Here, he meets Danny, a bespectacled gay artist, struggling to find an outlet for his sexuality.

Their two worlds collide in what should be a tender story of mutual discovery but instead the film is so concerned with what it should be that it loses any sense of purpose and precision. Carter becomes the victim of his father's anger and discouragement whereas Danny is celebrated by his mother and his teachers. This dichotomy between Carter, a self-inflicted outcast and Danny, an outcast because of something which is beyond his control, should have been a more interesting one.

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Kyle Clare provides a hesitant performance as Carter and although his character grows as the film progresses, it becomes impossible to ignore the somewhat stereotypical portrayal. This shortcoming is not completely the fault of Clare, because to a certain extent he is at the mercy of writing which sadly shows little imagination. Instead of being the aloof and unobtainable 'jock' he keeps claiming to be, within the first five minutes we see an unconvincing bout of tactile approachability. There is no time for Carter to grow into his feelings towards Danny and because of this it is easy to lose interest in their love.

Danny (Tye Olson) however, is much more convincing thanks to a subtle use of emotions which brings a variety of levels to the character. The vulnerability and frustration that comes with feeling inexperienced is portrayed far more convincingly. One thing that saves this film from being a complete disappointment is the chemistry between Danny and Carter. Although neither performances are singularly successful, when taken together there is notable charm. There is a cringe-worthy aspect to the dialogue, which takes a base and corny approach to teenage dialect, but despite this the nervous, quivering excitement which comes with an all-consuming first love is really felt on screen.

This is a film which has been made far better and far too frequently. It becomes carried away with the thrill too quickly, stunting character development. Ironically, unlike Danny's paintings there is no light or shade in the script, creating a stiltedness due to a lack of humour and and blind focus on drama. This film doesn't need to be funny, but the oppressiveness from the start is to its detriment. Danny learns everything he needs to from Carter, including love and lust but, rather predictably, the story ends tragically.

Unnecessary prolepsis gives us an insight into an adult Danny but the action ends on a note of annoyance rather than romanticism - encapsulating the film as a whole.

Reviewed on: 13 Sep 2010
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Exploration of first love and sexuality as a teenager in America.
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