Sundance Film Review: Gregg Araki’s Kaboom
Gregg Araki’s tenth film Kaboom is unapologetically funny, sexual, inappropriate, and apocalyptic. In short, it was entertaining and pretty brilliant. The movie is a fast-paced, sex-driven, drug-fueled, surreal, highly-stylized, live-action graphic novel about coming of age and dealing simultaneously with the stress of college and the end of the world. If that description seems crazy or a little bit confusing, just wait until you see the film. But throughout all of the craziness, I was thoroughly entertained, amused, amazed, and impressed. All in all, it is a film well worth watching. Kaboom premiered in May at the Cannes Film Festival to rave reviews and is quickly creating the same buzz here at Sundance.
Kaboom follows 18-year-old college freshman Smith (Thomas Dekker) as he navigates the struggles of college life with his best friend, the acid-tongued lesbian art major Stella (Haley Bennett). His doomed crush on his straight surfer roommate Thor becomes nothing compared to the other problems Smith soon faces. From questioning his sexuality to dealing with a psycho, angry witch, Smith can’t seem to catch a break. Throughout it all he’s haunted by a prophetic dream/nightmare about walking naked towards a doorway. After eating a drug-laced cookie at a party, Smith gets puked on by a mysterious redhead (Nicole LaLiberte) from his dream, hooks up with the quirky London (Juno Temple), gets chased by people in animal masks, and all hell breaks loose.
Like Araki’s earlier films, the dialogue was witty and hilarious, the shots were painstakingly composed, the characters were both unique and gorgeous, and the story pushed the limits of even liberal sensibilities. The dialogue was full of pop-culture references, modern slang, witty insults and it kept the audience laughing throughout a good portion of the movie. I loved the way Araki used the dialogue to create a separate, unique and engaging personality for each character. The film was impeccably casted with every actor perfect for their character. I was impressed by all of the performances. All of the actors were enviably beautiful with equally enviable wardrobes. The cinematography was compelling with all of the shots carefully blocked out and constructed to achieve the most striking visual effect possible.
I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and I highly recommend it. Kaboom is getting distributed through a limited slow platform release in 30 cities across the US throughout the coming months starting with New York at the end of this coming week and Los Angeles the next week. It’s also being released for Video on Demand the same day as the New York premiere. So if you get a chance to see it, definitely do.