This was a delightful film.
Hal Hefner has a stutter and a bad family life. He longs to be able to speak like those around him, to communicate all of the thoughts in his mind but can’t seem to get out. Ginny is the star of the high school debate team. When she loses her debate partner, she decides to challenge Hal to overcome his disability by joining the team. What blossoms is the most important relationship of Hal’s life, but not at all the way he expects.
Nearly everything in this film was pitch-perfect. The acting was solid and genuine, the characters well-drawn and quirky, the story developed fully and original. The feel of the film, in terms of directing style and musical choice, was similar to Juno and 500 Days of Summer; artistic, creative and refreshing in that indie film sort of way.
What truly grabs you, however, are the people. The film is real. It doesn’t have that artificial feel of so many films, where everything works out perfectly. This one could have happened, and probably is happening, in some high school somewhere. It is a film about the inner lives of the characters – how could it not be? It is about a boy who cannot express himself. You truly come to connect with Hal, to feel his pain and his triumphs. There are plenty of cringe-worthy moments for fans of The Office, and more than a little to challenge “squeaky clean content” Christians. The film is about real issues that real kids wrestle with at this age, and this would be a great place to start wrestling back.
Rating: **** out of *****