Directorial debuts are always an interesting thing to witness.
For some it’s the birth of something amazing. For many, it’s the contrary. However, the amount of hope, effort, new perspectives, unbridled joy and nervousness is unparalleled. Tribeca Film Festival is no stranger to the up and coming director, so Quinn Shephard, the 22-year old who directed this film, had the perfect place to debut her movie. Blame, as Quinn says, is partly based off her own life and experiences. It chronicles the story of two girls, the popular girl who everyone loves, Melissa, and the mysterious girl whom everyone looks down on, Abigail, as they both vie for the attention of a new substitute teacher.. With a director so young, it’s quite a feat to pull off. However, despite her age, she does surprisingly well.
Shephard frames each scene very well throughout the film. It’s very easy in the case of her film to fall into the many cliches of life in high school and how telling such a story goes. However, she does a great job of avoiding them and giving each scene a sense of real drama, as it feels to the girls and kids that are experiencing the events in the film. Each scene finds itself in this perfectly contained capsule or bead that properly tells a piece of the story. While that sounds good, the real issue comes in putting all those beads together in a nice way, to come around to make one single piece. This film falls short of that for several reasons as you’ll see.
The screenplay itself reads very well for the most part based off of the film. The story is there and makes the mundane and tired story of high school drama and crushes seem interesting and mysterious in a taunting manner. The real issue is not the bones of the story, but how it comes to life. After watching this movie, you’re left a bit confused. In one of the final scenes, you can sort of see how it’s going to go, but it’s not your immediate thought or response, because the film offers sparse evidence to justify the conclusion. Only after hearing Quinn explain the premise loosely afterwards does one get an idea of what the film truly is about. After gaining that knowledge and looking back, you can see the script does hint at everything in very subtle and soft ways. However, Quinn doesn’t adequately portray those subtleties. Characters, such as Melissa’s dad, most likely in a hope to confuse audiences, is not giving off the proper vibes for the viewer to see what he’s really doing.
The acting for the most part was great. Especially considering many of these kids lack a great deal of experience. Quinn’s directing style lends itself to a great deal of innovation, evident in the kid’s banter through the film, especially in the classroom. Seeing Quinn engage in not only the director’s and writer’s role, but also the lead acting role surely was something. If nothing else, she is a hard worker. However, not all of the performances were great. There is the man that plays Melissa’s father. He gives off too much of a friendly dad feel who only wants what’s best for his daughter. However, there’s not enough evidence throughout the film to establish that.
At the end of the day, the question always becomes “Should I see this movie?”. This film never really properly comes together at the end. Each individual bead looks good on it’s own, but assembling them together is far from easy. With that said, that makes Blame a somewhat confusing and alienating movie to watch. It’s still an interesting watch though and Quinn is definitely a star to keep your eye on.