Review: Struck By Lightning
Some stories aren’t about the plot. Struck By Lightning is one of these stories. I could tell you absolutely everything that happens in this film and it would not ruin it for you. It’s like a film about a story you already know – Snow White or Cinderella — the movie experience is simply in being taken through the moments of it.
You would still experience the unusual world-building and painfully on-point performances that make this film so engaging.
It’s also entirely possible you will not like the main character, Carson Phillips (Chris Colfer).
Carson Phillips is a douchebag. He’s loudmouthed, judgemental, preachy, mean to his mom (Allison Janney) (who gives as good — or better, really — than she gets). Interestingly, he’s meant to be ambiguous as to whether he’s gay or straight. Gay writer/star Chris Colfer did this on purpose because he believes that a gay character would have less relevance to straight kids, and a straight character would have less relevance to gay kids. The problem with that, of course, is that by removing any explicit reference to his sexuality, Carson’s character becomes “straight” and suddenly critics are wowed at The Gay Kid From Glee‘s ability to play a straight character.
What that doesn’t mean, actually, is that there aren’t any gay romances in the film. In fact pretty much the only romance that goes anywhere (because romance is not the name of the game in this film) is between two boys.
I’ve been a big fan of Colfer’s since a friend harangued me into giving Glee a chance a couple of years ago. Resisting the impulse to tell everyone the film is perfection, however, has been easy. It’s not.
Smack him down
Some of the dialogue is heavy handed. Really heavy handed. When Carson gets preachy, you kind of want to smack him. And it’s even more infuriating that he’s always right. You want to spend a lot more time with Malorie than you actually get to, but that has to be down to the genius that is Rebel Wilson.
The camera work, which some people have found annoying, actually works for me completely. We’re given the impression we’re seeing intimate moments of people’s lives — through windows and a partly open door — that we would never be privy to.
In the end, two things make this film a must-see. The first is the story. It’s unusual, and touching in surprising ways. This is not a standard issue teen film. The second is the performances. While some of the dialogue can be weird and jarring, Allison Janney, Rebel Wilson, Polly Bergen and Colfer himself all give impressive performances.
Struck By Lightning is currently accessible on Video on Demand through iTunes or Amazon provided you are either in the US or can convince Apple or Amazon that you are.
The theatrical release in the US begins this month but we are still awaiting details of an Irish/UK distributor.