Not every two-working parents household is as lucky as the Roberts’. Then again, not every household has someone like Anna (an amazing Lindsay Broockman) who can serve as a surrogate mom while both road-warrior parents are away on business.
Sixteen going on thirty, Anna spends her days actually taking school seriously and her evenings practicing the cello and taking care of her brothers; good-natured but borderline juvenile delinquent older brother Jake (Paul Conrad) and reclusive insect-loving little brother Simon (Bryan Chafin). Naturally, this means that Anna is as much a loner as a misfit, especially since her best friend Rachel (Stacy Hopkus) has not only moved to the frozen north of Minnesota, she’s entered adolescence with a vengeance.
Opposites, as they say, attract, which is the best way to explain the immediate connection between the suffocating school girl and the roguish new kid James Fisher (Brandon Howe). Much more a classic case of puppy love than smelling like teen spirit, Anna and James ease ever so gradually from nervous pals to unspoken soulmates…at least until graduation. Yet, there are a few bumps in the road, not the least of which is a visiting Rachel’s overt play for James and Anna’s discovery of the dark secret which brought James to her school and into her life.
When James calls Anna “original,” he brilliantly sums up both the exceptional Broockman and this remarkably sweet video feature from Kat Candler. “Cicadas” is so earnest and so determinedly upbeat, it’s capable of erasing the cynicism of even the most hard-bitten Cubs fan. The film is also genuinely funny and authentic while its dramatic moments, though intense, thankfully refuse to yield to syrupy melodrama.
The star here in every sense of the word is Broockman. Forget Molly Ringwald in “Pretty in Pink.” This was far and away the most realistic depiction of a sixteen year old girl the big screen has seen in some time. If Broockman’s had any formal training, she should keep doing whatever it is. Yet, her performance is so utterly natural, her subtle facial expressions so pure, it doesn’t look learned. If that’s the case, it’d be a shame to see acting classes screw that up.
“Cicadas” has all the energy and raw enthusiasm of a high school play. It also shares some of the same iffy production qualities, starting with its occasionally shaky overdubbing and the video format. Candler partially compensates for DV’s limitations by scattering enough creative editing splashes throughout to liven things up.
“Cicadas” is the sort of soothing feel-good film that makes the viewer feel better about young folks and life in general. In today’s “Doom” and “Marilyn Manson” infested world, that in and of itself is as original as it is refreshing.