I would probably give this about a 5.5, but since that's not available, I'll be nice and say 6. Chloe Moretz is what primarily drove me to see this film at first, especially since I wasn't too familiar with or cared for any of the actors who were to be in it. I might be a bit biased because prior to my viewing, all I'd heard was how AWFUL this film was. But I said screw it, it's Chloe Moretz. I've been on a Chloe binge lately and thought I'd help satisfy it by catching this. A month before its May 11th release, I read the book and was legitimately impressed. The book truly captivates the reader, by giving you a sincere sense of what goes on in Luli's mind, given her experiences with a troubled family and redneck life. Having truly enjoyed the book, I was able to ignore the horrid reviews I'd read and decided I'd go for it anyway.
I'll say this: if it weren't for Chloe Moretz and Eddie Redmayne, this film would truly have been a flop. The script is a bit similar to the book, as pertaining to the volatility of the plot and random introduction of significant characters. But the script fails by giving most of these spontaneously interjected characters ridiculously short screen time (Blake Lively only had about MAYBE 15-20 min. tops?). Characters that had given reasonably substantial meaning to Luli's depicted life on the road, such as Clement, Beau, even Lloyd, had no more than 2-3 minutes screen time apiece, and many of them were given almost no depth whatsoever.
Chloe did a fantastic job of acting, as usual. Her portrayal of a charming, street-smart yet semi-innocent teenage girl is visually and emotionally gripping. Her camera action and dialogue alike are the culmination of what only the most talented, versatile young actress in Hollywood can produce. Blake Lively did a reasonably decent job, and actually showed a surprising amount of character depth. But it is Mr. Redmayne who steals the show.
Having never seen a film with Eddie Redmayne before, I can't say that I had really known what to expect from him. I had read from many sources that he had done a fabulous job in this film, with one such reviewer even claiming he deserved an Oscar nod. Having read the book and been well-acquainted with what to expect from the man playing Eddie Kreezer, the acquaintance-turned-murderer-turned-kidnapper, I was thoroughly and legitimately impressed with his depth. Eddie Redmayne brought a perfect combination of charm and emotional versatility, with the underlying degree of insanity which would turn extreme in the final act of the film. Redmayne's western accent was phenomenal, given his English citizenship, and his charming cowboy persona was spot-on. His mood in scenes would vary from condescending to charming to menacing and so on. I can honestly say that Eddie Redmayne literally made the show for me.
The film as a whole will probably not be up for any (significant) awards, especially given its indie status and almost obsolete promotion. I can't recommend that the average moviegoer check out this film, maybe not even the average Chloe Moretz fan. But if you're up for a road film centered on a young girl who learns to literally pull herself up by her bootstraps and survive countless things, from abandonment to rape to kidnapping and so on, it could be worth your time.
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