Seventeen-year-old Caroline Wexler (KAT DENNINGS) is facing a teenager's nightmare: her widowed father has moved them from the city to a tiny, nowhere town. When Caroline realizes she has nothing in common with the permanently stoned kids that populate her new school, she pursues the one person she connects with -- her handsome young teacher, Mr. Anderson (JOSH LUCAS). A bizarre love triangle ensues between Caroline, Mr. Anderson, and a stoner classmate (REECE THOMPSON). A mash up of genres and tones, Daydream Nation is a coming of age story for the 21st century.
is an independent, quirky, vaguely creepy film that will keep the viewer guessing. Writer-director Michael Goldbach has created unexpected layers to the story of a big-city girl who moves to a small town and stirs up trouble because she's bored--and is then caught in the awful consequences. The cast is terrific, including Kat Dennings as Caroline, the high schooler so bored she begins an affair with her teacher (Mr. A, played by Josh Lucas, also terrific). Meanwhile Reece Thompson, as fellow teen Thurston, creates the final piece of the love triangle that spells trouble with a capital T
. Andie MacDowell plays Thurston's mom, and is a standout; her performance is reminiscent of Cloris Leachman's in The Last Picture Show
. Daydream Nation
is offbeat in the manner of Juno
, Donnie Darko
, or Jim Jarmusch's or David Lynch's weirdest work. "For a while there, it seemed liked craziness was in the air," Caroline narrates in a voice-over. "And we were all just… breathing it in." If some of the plot twists aren't completely believable, the performances and the assured direction still make Daydream Nation
a very watchable, engaging experience--a creative antidote to formulaic films and one that lovers of independent film will enjoy. --A.T. Hurley