Thursday, December 14, 2017

A Glass Of Wine At The Movies - My Friend Dahmer

I have something a little different to share on the blog today. It's something that may become a regular thing on here if there is an interest. I was lucky enough to be given the chance to watch a screener of My Friend Dahmer. You may recall I read (and loved) the book just a little while back and was thrilled to be able to review the movie as well.

My Friend Dahmer

Rating: 14A

Director: Marc Meyers

Language: English

Length: 107 minutes

Cast: Ross Lynch, Alex Wolff, Anne Heche, Vincent Kartheiser

Viewing Method: Review Screener

Synopsis: Before Jeffrey Dahmer became a notorious serial killer, he was a shy, alcoholic teen who never quite fit in. Based on the acclaimed graphic novel by Derf Backderf, this is the true, haunting story of Jeffrey Dahmer in high school.

**received review copy from Mayfair Theatre in exchange for an honest review**

My Friend Dahmer is not your typical true crime inspired film. It has no interest in showcasing the horrific crimes that Jeffrey Dahmer committed. That is just simply not what this story is. It instead offers a dark coming of age story that focuses on who Jeffrey Dahmer was as teenager in an attempt to understand who he became.

This movie is, in a lot of ways, a love letter for fans of the graphic novel that inspired it. Plenty of the scenes are direct recreations of panels within the novel, and they both share a similar tone. The movie being filmed on location (including the Dahmer house) adds something extra to the movie that I feel would have been missing if it had been filmed elsewhere. The setting is almost a character itself and one that makes it all to easy to believe that the warning signs Jeffrey displayed went mostly ignored. The setting also nails the 1970s perfectly. The attention to detail is rather impressive.

Nature versus nurture. It is a question is one that prompts much discussion. This dive into who Jeffrey Dahmer was during the most formative years of his life leads one to wonder if anything could have been changed, or if the crimes could have been prevented. The movie doesn't profess to have the answers. It takes the stance that many things, including something that existed within Jeffrey, made him who he was. It was nature and nurture. The movie, like the novel, doesn't intend for you to sympathize with Dahmer, but it also doesn't portray him as someone that couldn't have been helped either.

Ross Lynch is the, obvious, stand out in the movie. He gives what is sure to be a career changing performance. There is a physical transformation that happens, both in physical appearance and in how Lynch holds his body, that adds another layer to his performance. It is the way he carries himself, with rounded, slouched shoulders and a distinct walk, that are the most evident but there are a bunch of quieter, more subtle choices that are just as effective. He can unsettle with nothing but a vacant stare. It's a chilling, but mesmerizing showcase of Lynch's talent.

The remainder of the cast offer up mostly decent performances. I found Vincent Kartheisers role, even though quite small, to be memorable. It's an important, but not flashy, role. In a movie where everyone will be looking at Ross Lynch's stunning transformation, it is worth noting that the other performances, at times, feel muted in comparison. This works in some cases, but in others it just left me wanting more.

The fact that this teen becomes a man who will go on to kill seventeen people is never far from your mind while you are watching. It is this knowledge that creates the tension that fuels the final minutes of this movie. Fans of the graphic novel will notice some differences to the ending, but the feeling invoked remains the same. It is a turning point that stays with the audience long after the closing credits.

My Friend Dahmer paints a picture of a teen who is lonely, ignored, and uncomfortable in his own skin. It's is all too relatable, and recognizable. It offers an all too human portrait of a monster and that realization may be the most terrifying. It is a movie I'll be thinking about, and discussing, for a long time. It's one I highly recommend if you're a fan of true crime.

My Friend Dahmer's Ottawa premiere is tomorrow night, and is playing exclusively at the Mayfair Theatre for a very limited run. Check out their website for showtimes.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome review! I'd definitely be interested in reading more of these! :)


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