Genre : Drama
Country : USA/Puerto Rico
Thomas Mann : Tobias Hammel
Lucy Fry : Alex Hayes
Logan Huffman : Ellis Tynes
Director : Joseph Castelo
“Stay invisible. Stay out of sight.
That was the plan.”
Lots of years ago I saw “Christiana F. – Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo” (including a masterful German version of “Heroes” by Bowie). After watching it, I was immediatly afraid of heroin. The impact this film had on me was indescribable and I decided I’d never start experimenting with it in my life. The image I had of cocaine after seeing “The preppie connection” was that this is just an innocent party drug. It looks like a not so dangerous but a costly drug. To be honest concluding this terrified me a bit. That’s pretty much my feeling about this film: an average film based on a true story that left no lasting impression.
Everything revolves around Tobias (Thomas “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” Mann), a teenager from a not so wealthy family who, forced by his mother (Amy Hargreaves), starts his school career at an elite school. His fellow students are the more privileged types who aren’t worrying about their study results. If your parents own a well-stocked bank account and you’re brought to school in an expensive limo, this is the last thing you worry about. I suppose subtly promised sponsorship by the wealthy family will help eventually. Tobias feels like an outsider. A parasite without money who dares to mingle with the bourgeoisie. The day he helps a bunch of those rich buggers so they don’t get expelled from school, his reputation changes drastic. And with the (unintentional) cooperation of the son of a Colombian ambassador (Guillermo Arribas), he sees an opportunity to earn a spot among the wealthier youngsters by smuggling cocaine from Bogota. At the same time he’s trying to conquer the heart of Alex (Lucy Fry) and the trust of her boyfriend Ellis (Logan Huffman), a spoiled rich jerk.
The film is based on the true story of Derek Oatis who went to school in similar circumstances. He attended Choate Rosemary Hall, an elite private school where John F. Kennedy once went to school. You can find part of the real story here. Perhaps the facts are a bit distorted and sugarcoated, but what I definitely liked was that ’80s atmosphere. When “Just like honey” by The Jesus and Mary Chain echoed through the room, this couldn’t go wrong. Maybe that’s because I am a huge fan of music from the 80’s. The soundtrack may have been a pleasant surprise, but the film on its own wasn’t.
Not that it was boring, but it wasn’t really intriguing. The clash of social classes in a school environment and the way individuals must assert to be accepted, is a subject that has already been used several times. And drug-related films are also in abundance. Besides, I didn’t know it was so dead simple to smuggle drugs in those day. Book a trip to Bogota in Columbia and wander around aimlessly (preferably in the slums) so you can get in touch with some local dealers who keep packets of cocaine in their storage cellar. And in the end you walk calmly through customs. This seemed a little bit too easy to me.
Also the performances were fairly superficial. At first I thought the way Thomas Mann acted in “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” was purely because of the script. Now I’m convinced that this is just his true nature, because he acts the same way here. A timid, somewhat nerdy look and at the same time a humble attitude. He wants to be rebellious, but always decides to keep a low profile. Lucy Fry has the appropriate appearance to act as a toy for the rich boyfriend and also played in other nondescript teen movies (such as “Lightning Point” and “Mako Mermaids“), but her character is essentially a necessary prop. The one who impressed me the most was Logan Huffman. Exactly the same psychopathic empathy as his character in “Final Girl“. A brilliant rendition that shows how a drug like cocaine affects your personality and can make you utter schizophrenic. However, when you like to have a quality movienight about these subjects, a combination of “The Breakfast Club” with “Trainspotting” would be a far better option..