erasing clouds

A Better Place

reviewed by Erin Hucke

Written and directed by Vincent Pereira. Synapse films; available on DVD/Video.

Teen dramas -- just the phrase makes you giggle at the frivolity or shudder at the ... frivolity. Either reaction usually isn't expressed with respect or goodwill. A Better Place is a "teen drama" but not in the sense we've come to know and roll our eyes at. This isn't John Hughes or She's All That.

A Better Place is the story of Barret (Robert DiPatri) who moves to a new town his senior year of high school after his father dies unexpectedly. Barret is quick to learn his new location isn't the most hospitable place to call home after he is harassed and almost beaten up on the first day of school. Barret is spared from a brawl when Ryan (Eion Bailey), a loner, works out his aggression against Barret's attacker.

Barret and Ryan become friends, an ironic situation considering the school's highest-ranking anti-soc is the only person who will be nice to the new kid.

The teens aren't mischievous or crude; they're not practical jokers or hoodlums, as depicted in so many movies and tv shows. It's not that they're older or more intelligent than your average high-schoolers, but there's definitely something that separates them from the mainstream teenage crowd. These kids live with adult responsibilities, filling in for absentee parents, giving them a more mature perspective.

It's the kind of maturity that allows you to appreciate the beauty of the natural world and realize it would be better without all the people screwing it up.

It's also the realization that those who think they can eliminate the people to make the world a better place are crazy. That's where Barret surpasses Ryan. After much hardship throughout his life, Ryan is convinced the world would be a better place without people destroying things and doesn't cower at the thought of taking measures into his own hands to better the situation.

Ryan was raised to believe in his destiny to repeat the horrific actions of his deceased father. While he tries desperately to un-convince himself of this idea with philosophical readings, after time, he has resolved there is no point. He is doomed. And from an outsider's view, it's plausible that he's right.

Issue 7, October 2001 | next article

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