Mean Creek

Film
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Time Out says

One of six kids en route to a boat trip, pudgy young bully George (Josh Peck) describes his dyslexia as the sort of genetic quirk crucial to evolution: ‘maybe I’m a superior being, the future of the race.’ It’s a moment of dramatic irony – the whole trip is mere pretext for a prank at George’s expense, set up by Rocky (Trevor Morgan) as misjudged retribution for George’s pummelling of his placid young bro Sam (Rory Culkin) – but it hints at the survival-of-the-fittest dynamic that underpins these adolescents’ incessant rough-housing. George is only halfway up a pecking order in which jabs and flinches define even the friendliest exchanges and morality evolves through messy trial and error. (As in such recent thematic precedents as ‘Bully’ and ‘Elephant’, adults are vague, distant and inconsequential.)
Thanks to a terrific turn from Peck, George proves disarmingly well-rounded as well as rotund, beams of wit and amiability alternating with clouds of arrogance and aggression; he charms the gang out of vengefulness before taunting them back into it. At bottom, he’s a sad, lonely kid – a fact illustrated by his keeping a video diary, whose form is mirrored in the home-movie feel cultivated by debut director Jacob Aaron Estes’ use of handheld photography and natural light. In the pivotal central sequence, the simmering aggression and emotional flux of the cramped boat is unnervingly offset by the tranquil, sun-dappled Oregon waterways and lulling score. At barely 80 minutes, ‘Mean Creek’ offers a similarly discomfiting, contained intimacy, wringing emotional and ethical tension from a set-up as simple, loaded and risky as a dare.

Details

Release details

Rated:
15
Release date:
Friday April 29 2005
Duration:
87 mins

Cast and crew

Director:
Jacob Aaron Estes
Screenwriter:
Jacob Aaron Estes
Cast:
Carly Schroeder
Ryan Kelley
Rory Culkin
Hagai Shaham
Josh Peck
Trevor Morgan
Scott Mechlowicz