Wednesday, 20 February 2013

15 Second Review: Afterschool

I can see why this film would alienate some audiences. Afterschool is quiet, slow-paced, and gives little away. In that sense, it feels aimless. The characters do very little, and remain somewhat indifferent to the film's central event: the death of a school student. However, inaction is precisely the point. The characters respond with clich├ęd sentiments, or attempts to sanitise the horrific event with slogans such as 'never forget'. Lead protagonist Robert's ugly, clumsy memorial video is decried and replaced by a conventionalised, sickly version. The truths of the incident are replaced with "correct" official memories. Afterschool's collisions evoke not only the process of historicisation, but also self-narrativisation.  The film's clinical tone articulates the distances between reality, truth and perception. The aesthetic also reifies Robert's compassionless, voyeuristic, solipsistic outlook. Rather than being devoid of content, Afterschool could more pertinently be accused of taking on too much. Among its other themes are the damaging effects of drugs (which is compared to formal medication), and the violent fantasies represented within some forms of Internet pornography. Look out for the clear targeting of Khan Tusion's Meatholes, for example. Afterschool is likely to be remembered as a knock off of Elephant or Benny's Video, but it deserves better: there is much more going on here than might be initially apparent on the surface.   

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