Monday, December 15, 2014

Lucas ★★★★

    The days of adolescence are a confusing time to say the least, but for the majority of us they are the greatest period in what seems to be a short, and at times, even desultory existence. Several art forms can successfully capture the spirit of this voyage (most notably the art of painting), but none more significant than film. For, as an exquisite painting can arouse some sentiment from its "still" framework, a motion picture can provide so much more. It will not only coax us into believing the events at hand, but it can create an emotional channel into the heart of our individual, personal experiences, which cannot be taken lightly.

    If there was ever a decade in cinema history where themes concerning the loss of innocence or the coming of age were prevalent, it would most certainly be the 1980s. Films such as "The Breakfast Club" and "Sweet Sixteen" divulged into certain teenage angst, most of which came in the form of differences between particular social groupings and the emotional state of young girls finding their way into womanhood. However, the picture in discussion, "Lucas," is infrequent in the fact that it follows the daily life of a sole male, as he attempts to survive not only the tension among social cliques, but constraints such as naive love and feelings of disdain.

    Lucas' personality is expressed through numerous characterization techniques, including the design of his look, dialogue, and external action. By way of these approaches, we know that he is geeky and rather homely in appearance, open minded and anti-materialistic--and above all--that he is a pariah. Even the captain of the football team (nicknamed Cappie) deems him a "great kid." So, why is he teased endlessly and viewed as if he was fresh off the holdings of an alien spacecraft? Well, I guess it is because he is dissimilar to the masses, although it is never implicitly stated, and that's the beauty of the high school.

    Reproducing the ambiance that this environment consists of is very difficult, yet pleasantly introduced in this instance. The utilization of rough film stock gives the picture a grainy texture as if cosmetic refinements were subdued in order to capture the moment in its natural state. Cinematic points of view are perfectly executed: from the subjective focus of Lucas' crush, Maggie, through a crowd of students at a pep rally, to the indirect-subjective panning of teenage girl, to teenage boy, in a chorus scene, as each individual glances at his or her "crush." (The latter being the quintessential capturing of sexual curiosity, at a time when it is new and mysterious.)

Image result for Lucas 1986 Haim film stills

    Additionally, the usage of natural lighting only adds to its authenticity, as the red glow of a local pizza joint becomes the reflection of a young couple's physical attraction, and while the low-key lighting, provided by a small tree, sets the mood for a confrontation between Lucas and the apple of his eye.

    Of all the methods present in the structure of "Lucas," however, the symbolism is undoubtedly the most subtle, and memorable. Of course, there is the first meeting between our protagonist and Maggie, as "Waltz of the Flowers," systematically blends with images of this young woman, as she goes through her tennis routine. The presence of the cicada, or locust if you will, and the emphasis placed on this fragile creature, also warrants some interpretation.

    Although the cicada has come to symbolize insouciance, in its most basic elucidation, this meaning is not relevant here. However one designates its significance is highly subjective, although it is my conviction that the cicada is a representation of Lucas, himself. His position in nature, his delicate physical attributes, and his inner appeal, all align with this eloquent contrast.

    Looking back, it is quite evident that the casting of Corey Haim, in the lead role, was nothing short of brilliant. Haim, an actor who lived through a turbulent career (and an even more turbulent personal life), contains the perfect amount of charm and awkwardness to pull off this performance. His mannerisms and rhythm of speech are truly a spectacle to behold. It would seem as if Haim were born to play this character, and that his best work would come before his face was plastered over the front page of every teeny magazine, this side of the Mississippi.   

    What makes this film unique, structurally speaking, is the irony of the seemingly static and dynamic characters. (The latter being affected deeply by the conflict.) Lucas is never really dependent on the outcome of his adolescent journey and never changes throughout the duration of the action. Yet, it is the surrounding characters, ones who would not normally be attributed to deep change (in regard to their demeanor or attitudes), who do find some guiding light from the resolution. "Lucas" is a picture that finds its way, much like the central character finds himself. It is unorthodox at times, but never relenting in tenderheartedness.

1 comment:

  1. This just flashed up on my G+ so thought I'd take a read.

    How interesting, because I also review films, although never as eloquently as yourself, and by the looks of it - different films.

    Well, I know nothing of this film, but you have given me one of the very next films I must review... the mighty 'Breakfast Club'. Now THAT'S a film, isn't it?

    Anyway, all the best.

    And see you around the net, perhaps.