West Texas Children's Story (2007)
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Critic Reviews for West Texas Children's Story
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Audience Reviews for West Texas Children's Story
This is the first long review I've written in some time because this film was the first movie in a long time that truly hit me at a deeply personal level, making an imprint on my very soul.
The film's story is set in the 1960s, and stars Cayden Boyd as 12 year-old Ben Reynolds. Ben's parents live in a loveless marriage, and he barely exists to them. One night, Ben's parents take in a young girl named Cassie Kennington (played by Annasophia Robb), the sole survivor of a car crash that killed both her parents. Cassie and Ben become close, and Cassie eventually presents the idea to run away as Ben's selfish parents don't have anything for the two of them. The crux of the film is then presented in the typical "road movie" scenario as they make the journey to Cassie's Aunt and Uncle's home in Baltimore.
In this otherwise typical "road movie", there are unexpected ideas, themes, and dark plot elements that I for one did not expect. The kids behave more like adults, and even have a small wedding ceremony. They talk constantly of dreams, plans, and what they want to do with their life. It's startling to see such young characters behaving in such an adult way, but these are two characters who never had anything provided for them from there families or community, so it maintains a level of believability, and presents a common theme in a new and intriguing way.
It should be noted now that this is not in any way a perfect film. It is the work of a first time director on a very low budget, and this shows. I often felt like I was watching the work of a close friend shot on his home camera. At the same time, this adds a personal feel to the work. Not to mention all the actors put forth amazing work. Cayden Boyd and Annasophia Robb in particular deserve high praise for giving the best performances I've ever seen from such young stars. They're often asked to deal with very deep issues, and they do it in a believable manner.
I'm very torn with this movie. Part of me wants to embrace it as a modern masterpiece and a work of wonder, and part of me wants to lobotomize my memory of its very existence. It's not because of the sometimes amateurish quality, or the annoying voiceover narration by Ben that occasionally appears, as those are both things that I can forgive. No, the part of me that hates it hates it for what it made me feel. Many of us have experienced a conversation with a close friend or family member where they tell you something you may not want to hear, and you hate them for it, but at the same time you needed to hear it. That's what this film did to me. It came at a time in my life where it truly struck a cord with me. Had I seen it at any other time in my life, I would have likely felt drastically different about it.
This is a tough film to recommend. There are two things everyone can agree on: the performances are excellent, and the music is beautiful. Opinions of the story, themes, and overall presentation are things that will be different for everyone however. It won't work for everyone, but it worked for me.
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