This review was originally published on November 02, 2013…
Roy (Chris Bellant) and Larry (Craig Kelly) have a new punk band, Witness My Jehovah, a new drummer, the crude Mike Peterson (Costa Nicholas), and Roy has a newly ruptured hemorrhoid. While at the doctor’s being treated, he meets and falls for Samantha (Allyson Reilly), a girl who seems to share his musical tastes and anal difficulties. As Roy and Samantha’s relationship progresses, all manner of different teenage dramas pop up.
Ryan O’Leary’s The Backseat is a punk tale of growing up, and as such it hits familiar bases, albeit with modern flair. Depression over a lack of response from Samantha after their first date, for example, is related to a lack of texts or email, as opposed to the ignored phone calls of yesterday’s teen drama. Also, when was the last time a film’s meet-cute happened in the doctor’s office after a hemorrhoid surgery?
My problems with the film relate to those same teenage issues, mainly in that I often found myself unimpressed with the people I was supposed to be cheering for. Roy, for example, is proclaiming love and getting depressed over it in one minute, then being a knee-jerk prick in the next. Again, it’s very teenager to behave in such a way, and swing so viciously, so it’s not like it’s unprecedented or even unrealistic but it’s not always sympathetic either.
This extends to the film’s climax, which, while I get the message it’s trying to send, I also don’t know that it needed to be sent in that specific way. Then again, my reaction is “there are more adult ways to handle things…” and, again, this is very much a teenage story. I know, vague, but I have to be.
As far as performances go, Bellant’s Roy and Reilly’s Samantha do have chemistry as the beleaguered couple, and both show they are capable of being extremely likeable and unlikeable in equal measure. Nicholas’ Mike Peterson is a bit one-dimensional, but he’s supposed to be the crude and lewd comic relief that doesn’t do much well except drum and talk shit. Craig Kelly’s Larry is really the only one that doesn’t have an insufferable moment for the audience, as he’s more the anchor.
On the technical side of things, I enjoyed the visual composition, and the cinematography is strong. Likewise, the music is fun and the edit is tight. Competent and quality filmmaking all around.
In the end, I found The Backseat to be a realistic and entertaining take on a teenage romantic dramedy, though I didn’t always like the characters and how they handled things. Then again, that doesn’t mean those actions didn’t fit into the narrative, so the film does right within the world it creates, which is ultimately more important.
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