Mass killings in schools are something quite typical of America and something that no one in other parts of the world can understand. Every now and then we read the news about such a horrifying event and no one is too excited about it because it has long become something normal that is happening in America. Of course, it is not normal for a complex kid who easily gets an automatic weapon to harm five, ten or twenty of his colleagues and then be shot by the police, and all those who witness something like that probably have to remain traumatized for life. One such massacre will be witnessed by the protagonists of the debut feature film by the not-so-famous actress Megan Park, and “The Fallout” won both a grand jury award and an audience award at the prestigious South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin.
Luckily, 16-year-old Vada (Jenna Ortega) will be called on her cell phone by her younger sister Amelia in the middle of the hour in tears and she will ask the teacher to let her out. She will head to the women’s restroom, where she will meet her peer, the popular dancer Miu (Maddie Ziegler), when a shooting suddenly starts. The two girls will hide in one of the toilets, and they will soon be joined by a young man Quinton, whose brother was killed just before, covered in blood. And Park wisely acts that this massacre does not show at all and that we follow these few minutes of complete disaster from the perspective of these three high school students who fear that these are their last moments.
In the end, all three will survive, but this traumatic event will have consequences for all of them. Especially on Vada, one of those typical outsiders from similar American movies, a girl from a good family with caring parents who just won’t be able to cope with what she went through. She will start to shut herself in, exclude her friends from the day before yesterday, become rude to her parents and younger sister and will tell everyone that she is OK while at the same time trying to deeply suppress what she feels. Mia, a girl in a rather different situation, will be in a similar situation because her rich parents are constantly absent and she is left to herself practically all the time.
“The Fallout” is a film that cleverly deals with this scary topic, but this dark and difficult story is wisely broken by humor from time to time. While Vada does not want to talk to anyone about how she feels, some of her schoolmates see in later protest parades an opportunity to draw attention to themselves. Vada is angry and sad, she goes to a psychiatrist (Shailene Woodley) for treatment, but until she clears up everything she went through with herself, there is no progress for her. Her behavior will also change. Until yesterday, this exemplary girl will start experimenting with drugs, alcohol and everything else that 16-year-olds usually do.
This drama was filmed in style and in a way that tries to show the life of today’s American teenagers as accurately as possible, who probably no longer communicate other than through mobile phones and social networks. Constantly in the corner of the screen we can read the messages that Vada exchanges with colleagues, we are forced to listen to that irritating slime of music that I guess American teenagers listen to today. But, all in all, “The Fallout” was a mature film that tries to deal with an extremely difficult topic in a quality, emotional, realistic, but also honest way and succeeds, thanks in large part to the inspired performance of the lead actress and the rest of the team. Rating 7/10.
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