This afternoon I had the pleasure of watching American science fiction drama-thriller film Chronicle.
Seattle teenager Andrew Detmer (Dane DeHaan) starts videotaping his life. His mother, Karen (Bo Petersen) is dying of cancer and his alcoholic father, Richard (Michael Kelly) is verbally and physically abusive. At school, Andrew is frequently bullied, all those negative issues manifesting in his depression and lack of luck.
Andrew’s cousin Matt (Alex Russell) invites him to a party to help him meet people, but Andrew’s filming negatively attracts an attendee and he leaves despondent. He is persuaded by popular student Steve (Michael B. Jordan) to record something strange that he and Matt have found in the woods. The trio enters a hole in the ground, where they hear a loud strange noise and discover a large glowing blue crystalline object which glows red. They are painfully stricken by nosebleeds and the camera cuts out. Weeks later, Andrew, Matt, and Steve record themselves, as they display telekinetic abilities, able to move objects with their minds, but bleeding from their noses when they overexert themselves. They develop a close friendship and begin employing their abilities to play pranks, but when Andrew accidentally pushes a rude motorist off the road and into a river, Matt insists that they restrict the use of their powers, particularly against living creatures.
When they discover flight abilities, they agree to fly around the world together after graduation. Andrew wants to visit Tibet for the peaceful nature. Steve encourages him to enter the school talent show to gain popularity. Andrew amazes his fellow students by disguising his powers as an impressive magic act. That night, he’s at the center of attention, Matt and Steve celebrate at a house party. After drinking with his classmate Monica (Anna Wood), she and Andrew go upstairs to have sex, but he vomits on her, humiliating himself.
Andrew becomes increasingly withdrawn, aggressive and culminating, when his father Richard attacks him and Andrew uses his power to overwhelm him. His outburst is so extreme that it inflicts psychically connected nosebleed warnings on Steve and Matt. While Matt ignores the nosebleed, Steve goes up to the middle of a storm and tries to console Andrew who grows increasingly frustrated, but Steve is suddenly struck and killed by lightning. At Steve’s funeral, Matt confronts Andrew about the suspicious circumstances of Steve’s death. Andrew denies responsibility to Matt, but he privately begs forgiveness at Steve’s grave.
Andrew grows distant from Matt and again finds himself ostracized at school, and when he rips the wisdom teeth out of a bully’s mouth. When his mother’s condition deteriorates, Andrew uses his powers to steal money from people for her medicine. After mugging a local gang, he robs a gas station where he accidentally causes an explosion that puts him in the hospital with burns and under police investigation. At his bedside, his father informs the unconscious Andrew that his mother is dead and angrily blames him. As his father threatens to strike him, Andrew awakens and destroys the outer wall of his hospital room.
During a birthday party, Matt experiences an intense nose bleed and senses Andrew is in trouble. He goes to the hospital, where Andrew is floating outside and proceeds to wreak havoc with his powers. After saving Richard after Andrew attempts to kill him, Matt confronts his cousin at the Space Needle and tries to reason with him, but Andrew grows aggressive and irrational at what he perceives as an attempt to control him, claiming to be an apex predator. Andrew attacks Matt and the pair fight across the city, hurting numerous people and policemen involved. Injured and enraged, Andrew uses his power to destroy the buildings around him, threatening thousands of lives. Unable to get through to Andrew and left with no other choice, Matt tears a spear from a nearby statue and impales Andrew with it, killing him instantly. The police surround Matt, but he flies away.
Three months later, Matt lands in Tibet with Andrew’s camera. Speaking to the camera while addressing Andrew, Matt vows to use his powers for good and to find out what happened to them in the hole. Matt positions the camera to view a Tibetan monastery in the distance and says “You made it” before flying away, leaving the camera behind to continue recording the tranquil scene.
It was a terrific film, taking the angst and drama of teenage life, throwing in all of the issues that can surround it, and then adding a really cool science fiction element as well. The plot was interesting, the methods used to create the film were engaging, and the acting from all involved was top notch. Special praise must be heaped on Dane DeHaan, who handled the role of Andrew with extraordinary skill, and really made you empathise with the troubled teen. It’s definitely a film that I’d recommend.
Thanks for reading.