Screened as part of NZIFF 2006
Following such recent cinematic studies of childhood as Mean Creek, Mysterious Skin and director Cuesta’s own controversial debut L.I.E., comes a deeply moving and very funny tale that could very well be this precocious generation’s Stand by Me. Twelve-year-old Jacob wears a hockey mask to cover a giant birthmark. His athletic twin Rudy is the ringleader of an outcast foursome including sexually inquisitive Malee and insecure fatty Leonard. When the twins dump a bucket of urine on local bullies, the soaked tweens swear they’ll destroy the quartet’s tree house that night. Revenge leads to death, which leads to guilt, grief and a hatred that strangely mutates into friendship. Twelve and Holding observes youthful cruelty with an eye for the absurdity of kids forced to grow up too quickly. It’s a triumph for the performances of the kids alone, but the main reason to celebrate this perfectly formed depiction of adolescence is that it’s a rarity in cinema; a film that can switch from being achingly funny to achingly sad in the twitch of a child’s finger.