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Luke Eberl's "Choose Connor" is a real stunner, an unusual coming-of-age story that packs a wallop in unexpected ways. It is all the more remarkable because writer-director-editor and co-producer Eberl was only 20 when he made it.
Eberl has both a dryly cynical grasp of how the world of politics can work and a gift for complex characterization coupled with an ability to draw from actors spot-on portrayals of much range and depth. He can suddenly unleash a jolting fear yet not let his film lapse into a standard suspense thriller; he is skilled at the visual as well as the verbal, a filmmaker of formidable powers of persuasion.
After a prologue that is daringly disturbing, Eberl cuts to a middle-school graduation where U.S. Senate candidate Lawrence Connor (Steven Weber) gives a speech and presents 15-year-old Owen (Alex Linz) with an award -- and ends up recruiting the admiring Owen as the spokesman for his youth campaign. Owen is a brainy but innocent idealist bedazzled by a glib politician who sees himself heroically walking a tightrope between high principle and necessary compromise.
That Owen learns politics can be a dirty business -- and hidden within that world much darker secrets -- is not all that shocking, but what makes "Choose Connor" so special and unsettling is the consistent adroitness and perfect timing with which Eberl makes his revelations. As equally impressive as Weber in the role of Connor is Escher Holloway as his troubled adopted nephew, a talented artist of dark visions.— Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times
Sat December 27, 2008, 7:00 only, The Film Studies Theater in ATLAS 102
USA, 2007, in English, Color, 114 min., Not Rated, 1:85:1 • official site