After the accidental death of his twin brother Rudy (Conor Donovan) on a scorching Independence Day, Twelve and Holding‘s protagonist Jacob Carges (also Donovan) finds himself navigating, along with his friends Leonard (Jesse Camacho) and Malee (Zoë Weizenbaum), an unbelievably harsh adolescent fallout. While Jacob—who sports a giant, warpaint-red facial birthmark—deals with the Alan Ball-ready malaise of his father and mother (Linus Roache and Jayne Atkinson), the overweight Leonard begins an apple-and-exercise regiment at the urging of his kindly gym coach (Bruce Altman) and much to the chagrin of his similarly obese family, who might as well be Oompa-Loompas for the cruel way in which they’re treated as sight gags. Malee, meanwhile, finds herself attracted to Gus (Jeremy Renner), the much older construction worker patient of her psychologist mother Carla (Annabella Sciorra—so you know the kid’s got “neurotic” coursing through her veins) and begins an increasingly ridiculous romantic pursuit that involves the Blue Oyster Cult ballad “Burnin’ For You,” a gun that—per the Screenwriter’s 101 template—has to go off by the third act, and a seduction scene that plays, unintentionally and quite uncomfortably, like an audition tape for the role of pre-teen prostitute Iris in Taxi Driver. Twelve and Holding comes off as something of a neo-con paranoid fantasy, its wayward trio of suburban youth standing in for the ills of an America that could only exist in the most myopic of dirty minds. I know artistic professions attract their fair share of recluses, but, based on Anthony S. Cipriano’s contrivance-heavy screenplay and Michael Cuesta’s Six Feet Under-tutelaged direction, you’d think they just got off the boat from Eden and found themselves in the cities of the plain. The idea of America as a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah isn’t entirely without merit, but Cipriano and Cuesta reflect their vision of Western excess and uncertainty in a mirror crack’d.
- IFC Films
- 94 min
- Michael Cuesta
- Anthony S. Cipriano
- Conor Donovan, Jesse Camacho, Zoë Weizenbaum, Linus Roache, Annabella Sciorra, Jeremy Renner, Jayne Atkinson, Marcia Debonis, Tom McGowan, Bruce Altman, Mark Linn-Baker, Tony Roberts, Michael Fuchs, Martin Campetta, Joseph "C.J." Foster
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