Dir: Jordan Ross | Cast: Garrett Hedlund, Noah Schnapp, Victoria Justice, Johnny Weston | US Thriller 91′
Garrett Hedlund gives a charismatic performance as a successful private tutor for the rich in this slick sophomore feature from Jordan Ross. The opening scenes picture Ethan (Hedlund) mentoring a series of odious and precocious young adults in the palatial Southern mansions of the East Coast monied elite. We are immediately on his side and appreciate the tricky nature of the work despite the considerable financial advantages. “The Magic City” of Birmingham Alabama, home of the Civil Rights Movement, provides a refreshing setting with its neo-classical buildings and leafy avenues captured with cinematic panache by Brian Rigney Hubbard.
By night Ethan is calming his pregnant girlfriend (Justice) with his sardonic sense of humour and raspberry leaf tea and life looks rosy until the past comes back to haunt him when an opportunity to improve the family finances comes in the shape of an unusual new client whose fancy abode and wealth beyond the dreams of avarice tops anything Ethan has ever experienced before. On arrival, the butler shows him to his personal suite complete with pool table and an extensive library, and Ethan – who will turn out to be an unreliable figure of authority – can hardly believe his luck.
His new charge – the troubled young Jackson (Noah Schnapp) – proves to be challenging and is most certainly on the spectrum in the way he forms an unhealthy attachment to Ethan, throwing tantrums and generally acting out in unpredictable ways. And Jackson’s bizarre cousins – spending the summer with him – stretch our imagination with their wild antics as this imaginative psychological thriller scripted by Ryan King (Law & Order Criminal Intent) morphs – not altogether convincingly – from light-hearted to seriously sinister threatening to derail Ethan’s own existence and unlock secrets from his past. MT
ON RELEASE FROM 23 MARCH