Daydream Nation – Movie Review
You always expect a bit of offbeat, quirky element to any indie flick, but I have to say, this is one of the stranger ones I’ve seen recently. Kat Dennings (herself a darling of the indie scene) plays Caroline Wexler, a high school girl who recently moved to a small town where it just so happens that A) a toxic industrial is raging out of control not far from town and B) a serial killer wearing a white suit is stalking teenage kids. Seems like a stretch, but okay, I’ll go with it.
All the usual tropes are there: embarrassing, awkward parents, stoner outcasts, and judgemental peers. Most of this just serves as a framework for Caroline’s progression as a character. She is obviously intelligent and creative, feeling stifled by this claustrophobic little town. Things get really strange, however, when she enters into a sexual relationship with her English teacher (why does it always have to be the English teacher…why not the frumpy guy who teaches shop?). Josh Lucas makes a bit of a departure here, playing the lecherous, emotionally damaged Barry Anderson. I’ve seen movies before where a student becomes enamoured with a teacher, and some have even involved this level of sexually explicit love scenes. But what got me was the way the film was almost dismissive of the fact that he was breaking the law. He is basically portrayed as one corner of a love triangle, and any humor dealing with his being a teacher was done kind of wink-wink, tongue in cheek. Some of it wandered a bit too far into ick-territory.
To tell the truth, I’m not actually sure if I liked the film. It hooked me quickly for sure. When I sat down to watch it, I wasn’t really in the mood for indie-angst, but the characters and voice-over narrative drew me in. Even when the movie started to get weird and fray at the seams, I stayed with it. I think that it will probably divide viewers. Some will appreciate the absurdity that gets injected into character relationships in subtle ways; others will think its overblown pap made by people who need a bit more time to hone their chops.