SLAMDANCE 2020 FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW! If there is anything that Thunderbolt In Mine Eye made me realize, it’s this…boy did high school suck! Adolescence is arguably the most terrifying and awkward phase of a young person’s life. Even when the intermittent moments of joy present themselves, there is always pain and heartache looming after class.
Both pleasure and pain are balancing precariously over Harper (Anjini Taneja Azhar) and Tilly (Quinn Liebling), the young lovebirds at the center of the strenuously awkward Thunderbolt In Mine Eye. On the surface, it makes sense that Harper and Tilly would be attracted to one another: they have known each other since they were barely old enough to read, they live across the street from one another, and they both go to the same high school (Harper is a freshman; Tilly is a sophomore). Furthermore, Tilly is the best friend of Harper’s brother, Adam (Alex Jarmon).
“…it makes sense that Harper and Tilly would be attracted to one another: they have known each other since they were barely old enough to read, they live across the street from one another…”
The blossoming romance between Harper and Tilly is a beautiful moment for both of them. Yet, the ensuing fallout results in their respective social standings going from awesome to outcast faster than either of them can say “teenage angst.” In its perception of the fracturing of young, delicate relationships, Thunderbolt In Mine Eye strikes gold. Jealousies emerge, and gossip grows like weeds in a garden.
Watching Harper and Tilly act silly and steal kisses will stir up memories of first love in anyone who has ever been a hormonally afflicted teenager. The problem with Thunderbolt In Mine Eye is that the interactions between the characters feel artificial and, well, awkward. For starters, the screenplay by writer and co-director Sarah Sherman is what I might term “forced authenticity”: it is trying way too hard to be true to the teenage experience.
Consequently, this approach backfires, and we get lines such as this one when Tilly invites Harper into his house: “I have this thing in my room I don’t know if you’d want to see. Or not.” Most of what comes out of Tilly’s mouth are these sorts of vague sentence fragments. It’s tough to comprehend why a character as spirited and charismatic as Harper would waste her time with Tilly, other than he’s convenient and willing.
"…If there is anything that Thunderbolt In Mine Eye made me realize, it’s this…boy did high school suck! "