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ADMISSIONS, 2004
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Movie Reviews

Directed by: Melissa Painter

Starring: Lauren Ambrose, Amy Madigan, Christopher Lloyd, Fran Kranz, Taylor Roberts, John Savage

Review by Travis Seppala

SYNOPSIS:

High school senior Evie is in a bit of a bind: she doesn't really want to go to college, she hates her mother (but her dad is always in the basement playing with toy trains), and her mentally handicapped sister is getting all the credit for the poetry Evie writes.

REVIEW:

Everyone always seems to look back at their high school days with loathing. There was drama and insecurity and parents/teachers that just didn't understand and... MORE drama. This is definitely the case for Evie Brighton in “Admissions”. Sadly, I can't relate to her or any of you! I loved high school!

The Brighton family is... dysfunctional, to say the least. Evie is a high school student with college admissions interviews that she has no intention of doing well on. Her sister Emily is a 20-something mentally handicapped idiot savant with the ability to repeat everything she hears. Their father spends all his time in the basement with his toy train set, and their mother is trying desperately to be a good mother but failing on virtually all accounts.

When Evie's not bombing college interviews on purpose, she's an amateur poet who reads her writing out loud for Emily's amusement. Suddenly, Emily begins reciting the poetry to their mother, who thinks Emily wrote them. She gives the poems to a local poetry teacher who informs the press and daytime TV shows.

With the focus of their mom and the even the country on Emily, Evie becomes more stoic and retreats into the basement world of her father and his trains. And when her best friend James makes the connection that Evie is the one writing the poetry Emily recites, it becomes clear that it's only a matter of time before her mom learns the truth as well.

“Admissions” is one part character study, one part unusual circumstance. And while the situation the Brighton family finds themselves in is interesting, the characters themselves are, sadly, not. I was interested in finding out what would happen as the tale of deception progressed, but to be totally honest, I couldn't care less about the characters themselves. Evie seemed totally self-absorbed despite her love of her older mentally handicapped sister. Her stoic sarcasm was off-putting for me and I found myself apathetic about what consequences might befall her as the string she strung became unraveled.

The acting, for the most part, was a little sub-par. It wasn't terrible by any stretch, but it was a little less than average. The exception to that statement being Taylor Roberts who did a beautiful job of portraying the idiot savant sister Emily. This does not surprise me since she was classically trained in the art of acting through the UNCSA Theater Conservatory and is so good that Al Pacino invited her to not only perform on stage with him several times in “Betsy and Napoleon” but asked her to help him rehearse for “Merchant of Venice”.

The cinematography and direction of this film were also only average or perhaps a little under average. I'm honestly confused on why it got such good reviews at Sundance and why the Sundance Channel chose it for distribution under their name both on the air as well as DVD release.

Despite the engaging story and wonderful acting of Taylor Roberts (who sadly had very little screen time in comparison to Lauren Ambrose (of “Six Feet Under” fame)), “Admissions” is really just an average film that borders on less than average. The pleasant soundtrack of the film keeps it in the higher category, but only barely. This is a film I would recommend only to someone who wants to see a lesser-known indie drama, or to a casting director who wants to consider a fantastic but little known actress (Taylor Roberts would be my suggestion).

I give “Admissions” a 2.5 out of 5.

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