A compelling and dirty coming of age story

In the opening scene of fun pagesthe first feature film as a director Owen KlinRobert Bleichner, age seventeen (David Zolgadri) shows his drawings to his teacher, Connor Katano (Esteban Adly Guirgis) Robert wants to be a cartoonist, but he is torn between what he should do and what he wants to do, which could not be polar opposites. Robert’s portfolio is full of figure drawings because he knows art colleges will want to see that kind of work, but Robert’s real passion is in the wacky drawings of his that seem to be quite influenced by R. crumbIt is a more cartoonish work. However, Katano wants Robert to embrace his passion and ignore what society tells him to do. Katano tells Robert that he must “always subvert,” and it’s a lesson Robert takes to heart in almost every scene in fun pages.


Shortly after this discussion, Katano is killed in a car accident right in front of Robert, and this accident solidifies this advice in Robert’s head. Almost immediately, Robert drops out of high school, telling his parents (Maria Dizzia Y Josh Country) who is moving and looking for his own place in Trenton, and decides to forgo college altogether to become a cartoonist on his own terms.

While Kline’s script often feels like a collection of weird scenarios for Robert, fun pages it fully commits to its disgusting aesthetic that makes the viewer feel like they’re under a thick layer of grime. fun pages it’s as if Terry Zwigoff tried to bring a john waters nightmare to life When Robert walks out to the movies, he finds himself living in the dreariest basement possible, with two other men keeping the heat at scalding temperatures for no apparent reason other than to show how sweaty and disgusting this new situation is for Robert. Kline’s direction and absurd set design make the audience almost feel the heat and stench that must emanate from that vile living arrangement.

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Kline uses the unsettling nature of the outside world as a way to show the difficulties of starting out on your own, a terrifying place that it would be easy to try to avoid at all costs. This feeling extends beyond Robert’s horrible apartment, to the rest of the real world. Even though Robert has a ray of hope for his future when he meets Wallace (Our flag means death‘s Matthew Maher)—who used to work for Image Comics—Wallace is a brooding, uncertain presence who can ignite anger in a second. Even Robert’s supportive friend Miles (Miles Emmanuel) makes for harrowing situations, as he stands too close to Robert when he speaks and seems too invested in this mostly one-sided friendship.

But this disgusting world that Kline creates is not just for laughs (although fun pages is awkwardly hilarious), it has a purpose in Richard’s journey. When he goes to visit his parents for Christmas, there is a tangible security and relief that comes from being in a place that is not intolerable. as the son of kevin klin Y phoebe cats, it’s easy to see why Owen Kline would want to tell this story of trying to explore the world on his own terms, without the help and comforts of the world one has always known. Robert’s parents are much more understanding than they should be and want the best for his son, but Robert knows that in order to achieve his own personal goals, he cannot exist in this world with the rules and expectations of society. family of him.

Co-produced by benny Y joseph safdie, fun pages It has a tremendous cast of actors who don’t look like the kind of people we usually see in these types of movies. Like Robert’s drawings, Kline highlights every imperfection and flaw in these characters. A pimpled face or a sodden slipper do wonders for hitting on Kline’s idea of ​​the outside world as a repellent idea we should all launch into.

Zolghadri has to walk a fine line here, as throughout the entire movie, Robert is subverting our expectations, often in a way that makes him seem like a huge jerk. When he is given kindness, he throws it back in the face of the kind person. When his parents try to do what’s best for him, he ignores his advice. Even when his choices could put him and those who love him in danger, he accepts any threatening situation that comes his way. But as much as we may hate the choices Robert makes, we understand why he feels this need to make his life this way. As Robert’s art shows, he knows the world is a vulgar and obscene place, and instead of hiding from that unseemly truth, he embraces it with both arms. It is a testament to Zolghadri that he is able to play this role without the audience hating every choice Robert makes.

Likewise, the entire cast is fantastic, from the brief Guirgis scene early on that permeates the rest of this story, to Dizzia and Pais, who try to give their son space, but are constantly shocked by the poor decisions in his life. . Even quick cameos from people like Andy Milonakis Y ron rifkin build this world, helping to show the dichotomy of comfort and discomfort that fun pages is playing with But of the supporting cast, Maher is the real gem, coming across as both an opportunity for Robert and a potential liability. Especially when Kline bridges these worlds of comfort and discomfort, Maher is like a bomb, ready to decimate whatever comfort remains in Robert’s life, and it’s a fascinating explosion to watch go off.

fun pages is one of the most distinctive and often disturbing directorial debuts of the year, as Kline shows a very established style that will be exciting to see grow in future projects. Kline films his world as if his lens is covered in dirt, but it’s an effective approach to the tone he’s trying to achieve. Kline has made a film that resembles the independent coming-of-age stories of the 2000s, such as The squid and the whalein which Kline also co-starred. fun pages it’s a seductive debut, but it’s also one of the most compelling and unique takes on the coming-of-age genre in years.

Classification: B+

fun pages it’s in theaters and on demand now.

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