© Tobis Film GmbH & Co. KG

U.S.A./France 2010

Opening 14 Oct 2010

Directed by: Joel Schumacher
Writing credits: Jordan Melamed, Nick McDonell
Principal actors: Chace Crawford, Rory Culkin, Philip Ettinger, Esti Ginzberg, 50 Cent

Just when you thought you’d seen enough movies about rich kids and drugs and offensive language, along comes another one. White Mike (Chase Crawford), so called because he is pale and ghost-like, and his dad have fallen on hard times as a result of having to pay mum’s medical bills. Dad is a waiter at the restaurant he once owned and White Mike, severely depressed after the death of his mum, drops out of school and survives by dealing drugs to his ex-classmates. He pretends that all is well when he spends time with Molly (Julia Roberts’ niece Emma Roberts). Nice and normal, Molly provides some stability in White Mike’s life and will possibly be his possible saviour.

The place is New York’s wealthy Upper East Side and the time is Spring Break. All those spoiled rich kids want to do is party, party, party and Sara (Esti Ginzberg) wants her birthday party to be the one which everybody will remember forever. Sara and her friends, and indeed their parents, know that parties and life in general are enhanced by drugs. The drug of the moment is called Twelve, a mixture of cocaine and ecstasy which is highly addictive. It is so dangerous that White Mike doesn’t deal in it and sends customers to Lionel (Curtis Jackson aka 50 Cent), who is a big time dealer.

White Mike’s cousin Charlie (Jeremy Allen White) knows Lionel well. Charlie has a social conscience and spends time with deprived kids in a gym in Harlem. They, in turn, despise him for his wealth and do-good attitude. Charlie depends on Lionel for a steady supply of drugs and one day, when he forgets that he needs a steady supply of money in order to receive them, he pays for his mistake dearly. As the movie develops and the kids come to rely on him more, there is no end to Lionel’s nastiness.

Joel Schumacher’s film is based on the book of the same name by Phil McDonnell, which received cult status among American teenagers. Mr McDonnell wrote it when he was a teenager himself, living in the world he describes so clearly. This movie doesn’t glorify the drugs or the people who take them. You know that all will end in tears as Mr Schumacher steadily increases the sense of dread in the movie while the kids prepare for that never-to-be-forgotten party. This sense of dread is aided by Kiefer Sutherland’s voiceover as he (presumably) reads from the novel. His voice is perfect and adds an extra dimension to the film.

Yes, you’ve seen it all before, but not always in such a well-made movie as this. (Jenny Mather)

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