A rebellious teenager is moved out of the big city to a small town, which she hates. The only person she seems to connect with and like is her teacher. She seduces him and they have a fling. Things get complicated when a young man at her school takes a liking to her and she doesn't realize that she also likes him.
That's the best way to describe this confused film. Daydream Nation has elements that work, but it seems that too much was thrown together for it to feel like a completed and strong narrative. I found that the big city to small town element wasn't raised enough here. It's the catalyst that makes her do the things she does, but it never fees as big an issue as it should. Daydream Nation has many of these things that should be more prominent.
There are a lot of subplots that try to bring more depth to the town and the story. There is something about a serial killer roaming the streets killing young girls as well as some chemical fire that has people wearing masks. These are odd little things that ultimately have no baring on the bigger picture. It would be nice if handled properly, but it feels more like a distraction.
Kat Dennings plays the confused slutty girl. She puts on a face that she is powerful and in control of things, but behind the scenes she is a scared little girl. When another classmate calls her a slut, she laughs it off and then goes on to belittle the other girl. Showing us that those words have no power over her, then once she is alone, she cries in the bathroom stall. She's human, confused and needs guidance, but she won't admit it.
Josh Lucas plays the teacher who is exactly like Denning's character. He gives a calm and intelligent manner on the surface, but underneath he is needy and a coward. The slow reveal of this character is great and Lucas really plays the oddity of this weirdo well. Reece Thompson plays Thurston, the young boy that likes Denning's character. He is a pothead who saw the death of one of his friends, so he's not all there. Another character that is scared and doesn't know where to go with his life. The difference is that he doesn't hide behind a confident demeanor.
One of the quotes for this movie compares it to Juno and Donnie Darko, as if David Lynch were to direct it. Well, it's not that weird. There are mentions of the end of the world, which did remind me of Donnie Darko, but that's about as far as it goes. I had a Dazed & Confused vibe from it, minus the decade/coolness/party vibe that Dazed and Confused has. Daydream Nation is a film that has too many things going on, it confuses itself as to what story it wants to tell.
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