Directed by: Jonathan Levine (Warm Bodies)
Starring: Amber Heard, Anson Mount, Whitney Able, Michael Welch
Owing to the fact that Jonathan Levine’s All the Boys Love Mandy Lane was made in 2006 and has a torturous history of not being released (at least in the U.S.), it has taken on a reputation that it frankly cannot support. Back in 2006 when it was a hit on the film festival circuit, it became the object of a bidding war and the winner was Harvey Weinstein. (Yes, I know, you can tell this isn’t going to end well.) But when they tested the film, the results were not what was desired, so they unloaded it on another distributor—and said distributor went under. Somehow or other, Harvey and company have now reacquired the property for release under their Radius banner. Considering that they’re dumping it as a kind of double-feature with Stacie Passon’s Concussion on a four-waller basis (essentially, they’re paying the theaters to show them), it’s not clear why the Weinsteins wanted it back. But they got it and now we’re getting it.
It probably doesn’t help matters that Jonathan Levine has gone on to bigger and better things—like 50/50 (2011) and this year’s Warm Bodies—in the meantime, making this movie seem pretty negligible. Don’t misunderstand, All the Boys Love Mandy Lane isn’t dreadful. If you like a slickly produced dead teenager movie, there’s no reason not to like this. But the fact is—apart from having a veneer of filmmaking gloss—it really is not anything special. In fact, the mere notion that the film believes itself to be a whole lot cleverer than it is, is on the slightly obnoxious side.
Apart from the movie’s ill-advised opening—which pretty much tips you off as to both of the movie’s wanna-be surprises—this is one of those movies where a bunch of horny kids go off to some isolated spot to drink to excess, do drugs, and dabble in matters of carnality. As usual, this leads to mayhem and murder. The slight wrinkle here is that Mandy Lane (Amber Heard)—significantly, without her best friend, Emmett (Michael Welch), in tow—is less a participant than a slightly detached observer to all the mid-level debauchery. In fact, you’d almost suspect she might be the one offing the various and sundry meat-on-the-hoof teens—except that we see it’s not her. By the 50 minute mark, we even know who it is, killing not-very-surprising surprise no. one. It’s pretty basic stuff.
It is, however, nicely shot. (I’ve seen it preposterously compared to Terrence Malick, but it’s not that nicely shot.) The acting is generally above par, too. Plus, some of the jolt effects are good without being exactly memorable. What it’s not, however, is some kind of brilliant deconstruction of the slasher picture. It simply is a slasher picture with an ego the size of Greenland. Should you bother with it? Oh, I don’t know. If you’re a horror completist, probably it’s worth a look, but don’t expect too much—and don’t wait too long, because I’m willing to bet this is only going to be there through Thursday, Oct. 24. Rated R for strong disturbing violence, pervasive drug and alcohol use, sexuality/nudity and language—all involving teens.
Playing at Carolina Cinemas