A ravishingly shot slice of teen-ness that eschews narrative altogether in favor of a moody, watchful wistfulness, this mild-mannered debut plays something like Bestiaire for contemporary slacker youth. Beginning in upstate New York (where the dusky Malickian lawns are endless) and finishing in the arid horizontals of Arizona, Pavilion loiters and observes teen boys at play and in repose. Specifically, it focuses on three kids in succession as they cross each other’s paths—walking through woods, zooming across public spaces in ritualized mountain-bike mobs, getting high, goofing off, saying nothing rather than risk vulnerability.
Sutton is invading Gus Van Sant and Matthew Porterfield territory here, but his eye for the wide shot and his confidence in the meditative pacing are all his own. (Cinematographer Chris Dapkins is someone to watch.) It’s a film that hinges on our openness to the simplest moments: A smiling mom watches her son and a girl swim in a lake at sunset; a boy’s long hair whips in the wind while driving. At times, Pavilion can feel like a study in adolescent boredom, as listless youngsters aimlessly circle on bikes—and you can be forgiven for thinking, Dude, crack a fucking book. But even so, it’s a lovely sonatina of a movie, brief and aching.
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