Review: Molly Maxwell
When an expressive high school student meets a new teacher, her passions for art, life, and love become both more defined and more complicated, but her ensuring choices and actions come with adult consequences.
Who’s in It?
Lola Tash is sublime as the titular curious teen, and Charlie Carrick effectively conveys a conflicted teacher, with many enjoyable supporting performances, especially from Richard Clarkin as the progressive school’s casual counselor.
Canadian writer and director Sara St. Onge offers up a familiar and compelling tale that resists the temptation to become lurid, absurd, and fantastic. It is a simple, determined, and affecting piece of filmmaking that raises questions about structure and rules of youth and follows a young woman as she learns a few lessons of life.
Molly Maxwell is an indecisive teen (as if there is any other kind), who, as daughter of a well-off family and someone afforded the chance to go to an artistic progressive high school, doesn’t quite know what she wants to major in. Her varied interests and casually interest in the opposite sex start to become confident yet more confused at the same time when a new teacher joins the school.
What unfolds is a film that is highly disciplined and filled with a curious and insecure sort of tension. Maxwell is clever and wise when it comes to some things, and in completely over her head elsewhere. Her eye and intrigue wander, and soon she becomes infatuated with both a man and an idea. If at any point the film seems to lag, which it rather does, it’s because of such discipline, it refuses to venture out into the magical or melodramatic to tell the story.
Far more based in reality than similar journeys of uncouth or forbidden love or (lust or contemplation), Molly Maxwell is sure-footed, determined, and decidedly cute, creating a practical slice of life for a young, pressured teen that doesn’t seek a comfortable and simple ending (or beginning or middle for that matter). Tash is captivating, and Carrick takes up a very difficult role, one that somehow elicits discomfort, curiosity, earnestness, and goodwill.
This small film is fascinating, funny, and evocative, an impressive foray featuring some rising stars.
Should You See It?