Tribeca Film Festival: I really don’t know what to make of Young Bodies Heal Quickly. To be sure, writer/director Andrew T. Betzer has a singular vision and is uncompromising in executing it. That being said, I kind of wish that he hadn’t subjected me to it. I’m not sure how other folks at the Tribeca Film Festival felt about it, but personally I was often bored, sometimes puzzled, and rarely entertained by this flick. Both Gabriel Croft and Hale Lytle give interesting enough performances, but it’s in the service of an impossibly slow movie that always remains far too obtuse. A third act 180 in the narrative gives things a mild quick, but by and large this is a slog. Young Bodies Heal Quickly is a tiny film that could one day be looked back as the starting point for an interesting filmmaker, but at this point, it’s just a festival entry that I didn’t much care for.
The story is very episodic and often seems to be an afterthought. Basically, we follow around two brothers, known only as Older (Croft) and Younger (Lytle). They’re about a decade apart, but both fairly odd characters. After “accidentally” killing a young girl, they flee the authorities, and with the help of their mother, set off to find their estranged father (Daniel P. Jones). He lives at a deserted compound and is the weirdest of the lot. Before then, they run into some bizarre folks, but when they arrive at the compound things are calm for a moment. Then, tensions arise and their dad forces them to come with him on a yearly road trip he takes to a Vietnam War re-enactment event. That’s when things get even stranger.
I’ll give credit where credit is due here to the cast for going all in with this one. Gabriel Croft essays a 20 year old who is clearly a bad influence and all but ruins everything around him. Croft never makes him too unlikable, but it’s clear that Older is a bad egg. Hale Lytle doesn’t get as much to do, but that makes sense considering his character is a ten year old. Younger is slightly more innocent, and Lytle lets you see that. Daniel P. Jones is just a strange guy here, though that’s the point. Jones gets some of the juiciest material to sink his teeth into, I’ll say that. Other supporting players who encounter the two protagonists include Kate Lyn Sheil as their sister who wants nothing at all to do with them, Julie Sokolowski as a maid they hang around, and others like Alexandre Maraouni. Jones probably gives the best performance, but all of them are in service of a film that just fails more than it succeeds.
Betzer is a filmmaker with a unique voice, I have to say that. I just don’t think he was able to get his message across, assuming that there is one here. There’s a bit about the father-son dynamic in the third act, but by then it’s way too late. Most of the episodic adventures before then go nowhere and really just serve to pad out the way too long running time. This is the sort of movie that would be a bit of a stretch at 80 minutes, but it runs 102 minutes, leaving you with more than a bit of exhaustion at the end of Young Bodies Heal Quickly. It’s just painfully slow. Betzer certainly has some nice visuals on display, but he may have to employ a separate screenwriter next time out. He’s a competent director, but his writing left a lot to be desired.
Basically, Young Bodies Heal Quickly is the sort of little flick that you see at a film festival but few other places. Tribeca has a lot better to offer than this one. It’s just weird for the sake of being weird, and while that can work on occasion, it just doesn’t here. I wouldn’t say that I hated Young Bodies Heal Quickly, but I wouldn’t recommend you making much of an effort to seek this one out. It’s yet another small film that makes the festival rounds and then likely will just disappear. Usually I bemoan that outcome, but I won’t for this one here.
–Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!