Sunday, January 26, 2014

Sundance 2014 Movie Review: 'Hellion'

Article first published as Sundance 2014 Movie Review: 'Hellion' on Blogcritics.

With Breaking Bad coming to an end, we don’t get our weekly dose of Jesse Pinkman. But at least we can find some chances of watching Aaron Paul in action on the big screen. For anyone with a bad itch to scratch, the video game adaptation of Need for Speed is coming our way on March 14, but his Sundance film Hellion will be a nice departure from caricature for him once audiences can finally see it. Something he already proved in the 2012 Sundance entry Smashed.

Hellion1In Hellion, Paul plays Hollis, a grieving father of two: 13-year-old Jacob (Josh Wiggins) and younger brother Wes (Deke Garner). Jacob plays the titular character whose childhood is spiraling out of control as he deals with his mother’s passing in his own way: vandalism and delinquency. Juliette Lewis plays Hollis’ sister and loves her nephews, wishing there was an easier way to deal with the circumstances. Soon enough, Jacob winds up getting Wes taken away from Hollis and given custody to his aunt. Meanwhile, Jacob keeps digging a deeper hole as he tries to find a way for them to get back Wes and one of Jacob’s friends coming up with a dangerous plan.

As we saw in Breaking Bad, Paul certainly knows how to turn on the waterworks. Something most male actors aren’t required to do very often. Bearded and worn, Paul delivers an all new character from his Pinkman persona, giving a powerful performance of a father at the end of his rope. Lewis is on a comeback of likeability between this and August: Osage County, finally learning that she doesn’t have to use her typical speech impediment-stylized way of talking.

As Jacob, Wiggins gives a fantastic portrayal of a troubled youth lashing out against a world he can’t figure out his place in. Writer/director Kat Chandler expands Hellion from her 2012 Sundance short into a tear jerker of a film — even if she uses way too much shaky cam. Hopefully, sooner than later, audiences will get to see that there’s more to Paul than just Breaking Bad.

Photo courtesy of Sundance Institute

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