14 August 2008 | goldwriting
The whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me, Dakota Skye.
There are few times as a movie watcher when you get to be there at the beginning. By the time a directors name gets tossed into the open arena of critics and fans alike, they have already created a handful of theatrical visions and you find yourself scouring Netflix or Blockbuster trying to walk backwards through their cinematic resume. Well, this is one of those few times where you can say you were there when. In a small number of years you can act snobby at parties and brag about how you saw this feature length debut years before anyone knew about the following successes. What's better than having intellectual ammo at the ready to feel superior about? Not much.
Let's talk about the movie first, before we get into the behind the scenes masterminds. Dakota Skye is a superhero tale with a twist. Dakota is a young girl, only medium cute (a line from the movie, which is terribly inaccurate) and she has a secret power. No one can lie to her. Anytime someone distorts the truth around her, their real meaning and honest thoughts appear in front of her like subtitles in a foreign film. You might think this would be a great power to have, but once you start realizing how much people lie and what they really feel about you, life can seem pretty bleak. This is where Jonah comes in, a pleasant tinged stoner who seemingly never tells a lie. Meeting Jonah throws Dakota's world into a spin because there are only two answers, either her powers don't work on him or he really is the last honest person on Earth. Let the teenage confusion and angst begin! The movie is really centered around the relationship between Dakota and Jonah, which places a large amount of the success on the shoulders of Eileen Boylan (as Dakota) and Ian Nelson (as Jonah). Thankfully both step up to the task. The chemistry on screen helps the audience sink into their world, reminding us about that time when we met the first person who got underneath all our walls and social defenses. Eileen shuffles her scuffed jeans and worn-in Chucks through a performance balanced between one part slacker, one part dreamer and one part trail blazer. Top off with a dash of jaded teenager forced to grow up too fast and you have the incarnation of Dakota. Her adorable presence on screen and earnest moments really center the film and keep the audience tuned in. Coming in to lend his assistance is Ian with a humble smile, honest face and almost effortless delivery. Certain scenes for him felt so natural it could have been mistaken for improv, just letting him go and feel the moment as it happened. You can expect to see both of these young actors in the coming years, that is, if you haven't already caught Eileen in Greek and Making Change and Ian in Bratz and True Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet.
Now both of those performances would not have been possible if not for the delicate touch of director John Humber. This is his first feature film and I can guarantee it won't be his last to reach the silver screen. Dakota Skye has the feel and rough edges of a debut filmmaker, but there is a vision, a concept and a level of skill that cannot be denied. The whole story is visually told with delicate pacing, filled with engaging moments, leading up to a beautifully touching final scene right out of any major motion picture we see today (specifically in the romance genre, that is). If this is the beginning of a career, all I can say is I am excited to see what's coming down the line.