It’s hard to critique indie cinema with quite the same vigour as you might a mainstream blockbuster flick. Often huge differences in budget and production quality make comparison virtually impossible; but usually what indie flicks often lack in production quality, they compensate for in narrative ‘gumption’ and imagination.
Struck, an indie teen drama from rookie filmmakers Alexander Milo Bischof and Michael Couvaras, subverts these expectations. Favouring production quality over narrative originality, Struck is an ambitious attempt at rehashing a familiar story for a millennial audience.
The film centres on the lives of four teenage friends as they navigate their way through love, lies and revelations. Best friends Jenny and Kate are all set to head off to uni together and seemingly loved up with their sixth form crushes, Paul and Steve. Events take an unexpected turn when secrets are revealed to the group with the potential to impact their lives forever.
Struck is an incredibly stylish film. The majority setting for the feature is a stunningly noirish woodland landscape that makes each scene an aesthetically pleasing treat for the eyes. There are demonstrable instances of innovative camerawork including one seamless tracking shot towards the end of the film, reminiscent of the eerie gloominess in 2014’s It Follows.
Kudos also has to be given to the original score by Sean Sweeney and Boris Massot Braun. Wonderfully in-keeping with the aesthetic of the film, the score oozes with originality and the theme is punchy and fresh.
There are a few kinks that inevitably come hand in hand with a low budget indie feature. For the most part, the dialogue between the four central characters feels very easy. But as the tension builds, the actors seem to strain under the pressure of delivering a more emotionally charged performance. It’s here too, in these emotionally charged moments, that the dialogue begins to show cracks. In contrast with the jarringly familiar and well-acted scenes of teenage banter, the scenes that are supposed to carry poignancy are confused and really throw you out of the film.
There’s plenty of ambition here and it’s clear that both Bischof and Couvaras are striving to tackle weighty subject matter with objective creativity. However, in the end, the film falls back on familiar tropes. The end twist was predictably disappointing after what is a promising first half. One may conjecture that imagination gave way to fear. That said, it’s clear there’s some real talent behind the camera. Whilst both filmmakers may still need to find their voice, both Bischof and Couvaras exhibit the potential to really break the boundaries of their genre and could prove to be true trailblazers in their craft.
You can watch Struck on Amazon Prime, now.
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