|The lives of several high-school students changes one afternoon, at 2:37pm.||score
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Joel McKenzie, Teresa Palmer, Frank Sweet, Charles Baird, Gary Sweet
Rating / Running Time
MA / 91 minutes
(c) moviereview 2006
ABN 72 775 390 361
High school can be hell. Not in a Carrie kind of way, but in the way that drives teenagers to suicide. Many think of it and some do it as any newspaper will happily tell you – the appalling figures speak for themselves. But what of those left behind? Some fall to pieces, others make movies. Such was Thalluri's experience who, at Cannes this year, freely admitted that making 2:37 saved his life.
There is an inevitable, and undeniable, comparison to Van Sant’s Elephant. Thalluri creeps behind a small group of students from breakfast until half-past two: his camera following first one character then another as time and narrative overlap, criss-crossing and swerving from incident to interview. Despite the obvious, and unfortunate, homage, issues of plagiarism are quickly forgiven as the kids reveal themselves with talking-head interviews cut into the storyline. Each of them has an issue – from pregnancy to incest, bulimia to bladder control, homophobia to homophobic self-loathing. The usual stuff, but worthy of suicide? “People are scared of dying – I’m not”, says one character. So perhaps it is.
The first-time director working with a first-time (and first-rate) cast creates such a vivid portrayal of teenage-anxiety that it is impossible not to be swept up by the moment. He effortlessly creates an emotional resonance that more seasoned directors can only dream of. Come the final, gruesome revelation, there was not a sound to be heard in the screening room - it is a mesmerising experience. 2:37 received a five minute standing ovation at Cannes and with good reason. If this doesn’t grab you by the stomach and choke you from the inside, nothing will.
// COLIN FRASER