Thanks to Arts East Magazine, I had the opportunity to view a bunch of amazing local, Canadian and international films as part of the Atlantic Film Fest. I saw shorts, docs, dramas, action flicks and a psychedelic romance that even males will enjoy watching. I laughed, I almost cried; I covered my eyes, I cringed; I said "Em-hm", I nodded my head to addictive soundtracks...
To finish off my intense love affair with cinema, I went to see Terri Thursday night. [Note: If you happen to be reading this and think, "Oh shit, I've missed the film fest!" - don't worry, you have until Saturday.
Directed by Azazel Jacobs, the indie film portrays the life of an overweight teenager whose mentally ill uncle-guardian is more Terri's patient than protector. Terri trudges through the days, regularly showing up to school in pajamas while attempting to ignore jeers from his idiotic classmates. He briefly goes through an obsessive phase of killing mice to observe the dynamics of the food chain and hasn't an ally in the world.
Based on this brief introductory synopsis, you may think that this film must be depressing. But it is quite the opposite. Enter Mr. Fitzgerald (played satisfyingly by John C. Reilly) the cooky, eccentric principal who is "just trying to do his best". After a traumatic adolescence plagued with the worst case of acne, Fitzgerald makes it his mission to befriend and allot time to each rejected student in the school. Principal Fitzgerald oozes with hilarity and heart; his interactions with Terri lead the teen to befriend another member of the derelict crew, Chad who compulsively pulls out his hair. The third to join their bond is the hot, former popular girl, Heather, who has lost her status for being caught being fingered during Home Economics class.
With impressive performances from all of the main cast (including Jacob Wysocki as the title character), Jacobs and Writer Patrick Dewitt have created a film that tastefully brings humour (lots of it) to those nightmares most of us have had at one time or another during our teen years. With no glossy coatings or full "revenge of the nerds" in the end, Terri brings a realistic sense of hope to us outcasts everywhere.