Review: I Like Movies – For the film fanatics
Directed by Chandler Levack
Starring Isaiah Lehtinen, Percy Hynes White, Romina D’Ugo
If you like movies, then it’d be hard not to like I Like Movies. Unashamed about its display of love for movies, this is a cracking film that’s thoroughly amusing, maybe a little more so if you get the film references. Yet this cheery comedy about film-bros eventually turns into a somewhat dark coming of age movie, all lead by a stellar and committed lead performance.
At the centre of the film is Lawrence (Isaiah Lehtinen), a 17 year old cinephile, completely in love with movies (as well as Saturday Night Live), who will stay up watching them, sometimes with his friend Matt (Percy Hynes White). He spends quite a lot of time at the Sequels Video store, so he gets himself a job there, where he spends time getting to know his first ever co-workers, including his manager Alana (Romina D’Ugo).
There’s certainly a nostalgia over video stores these days, particularly with them showing up in more films and TV shows these days (eg the Netflix show Blockbuster). This film does a great job with utilising this kind of nostalgia without falling into it, still showing the mundanity of video store work, that’s as exciting as any other customer service job (though Lawrence is keen on the ten free rentals workers get a week).
But what’s most striking about the film is how much we find out about Lawrence‘s character. We soon discover his past trauma and the kind of effect it seems to have on his wellbeing and conduct. He acts out when he doesn’t get his way, even if he’s the one really causing his own troubles. It’s a horrible depressing cycle that he gets caught up in further and further. Later in the film, it just seems impossible to like him at all.
This film has a clear memory of being a 17 year old and how some of us can act so childish and selfish, and that there’s got to be a time to grow out of it. I Like Movies shows what may be a start for this transformation, as Lawrence emerges from this awkward and even emotionally volatile high school time to a more mature and socially conscious college time.
What starts off as a real love-letter to films in the video and DVD era comfortably transitions into a troubling (though likely relatable) coming of age tale revealing how fraught teenage years can be, and the film manages to pull off both the comedy and drama so well.
I Like Movies screens at Luna Leederville on Wednesday, July 12 and Friday, July 14 as part of the Revelation Perth International Film Festival. Check out the rest of the program here.