Twelve And Holding

Twelve And Holding


Reviewed by: George Williamson

It's hard being 12 for anyone, but losing a best friend is unimaginable; when you're 12, your friends are your whole world.

Malee (Zoe Weizenbaum), Leonard (Jesse Camacho) and the twins, Rudy and Jacob (Conor Donovan), are the closest of childhood chums - practically the famous four - but after Rudy is killed when a local bully burns down their treehouse, their lives are all permanently scarred.

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Jacob is obviously hit hardest. He's lost a brother, and his parents are little help, mired in their own grief and anger. He turns to revenge, taunting the killers through an inch of plexiglass during visiting hours; his character changes from shy and retiring to bullishly angry.

Obese Leonard loses his sense of smell, and with it his life-threatening appetite. Soon he's on a health crusade and antagonising his overweight family by refusing to eat anything but apples. Precocious Malee falls in love with a troubled but handsome construction worker, a patient of her psychiatrist mother. Is she yearning for an absent father figure, or simply embracing her emerging womanhood in a somewhat Nabokovian way? Over the course of the film all three of the children learn some hard life lessons, but also educate their families, showing them all ways to grow up.

While the core premise of Twelve And Holding doesn't sound astonishingly original, the performances from the central three child actors are refreshingly good. There are no saccharine sweet teens here and no Potter-esque mangling of lines and enthusiastic overacting. There are some wonderful standout scenes too, such as Malee's excruciating attempt to seduce the object of her affections and the images of Leonard's family tucking in to a gargantuan Christmas feast, while he looks on in revulsion at their porcine shovelling.

It's interesting to see such a mature set of children, but one of the few flaws is that their dialogue is almost too intelligent - certainly towards the end - to be entirely plausible for characters of their age, however, there are no issues with the delivery, which is nigh on perfect. Another criticism that could be raised is that the plot sometimes calls for stretches of the imagination that seem a little too improbable - Leonard's incarceration of his mother in the basement is entertaining, but does seem a little silly - but they're part of what makes the film stand head and shoulders above other, more family friendly films.

In a well-populated genre, Twelve And Holding manages to combine great performances with enough individual plot quirks to make this a fresh and rewarding watch.

Reviewed on: 07 Sep 2006
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A tragic accident changes the course of three children's lives.
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Director: Michael Cuesta

Writer: Anthony Cipriano

Starring: Linus Roache, Annabella Sciorra, Zoe Weizenbaum, Jeremy Renner, Jayne Atkinson, Marcia DeBonis, Conor Donovan, Jesse Camacho

Year: 2005

Runtime: 94 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


EIFF 2006

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