Deeply moving and hilarious tale switches from achingly funny to achingly sad in the twitch of a child’s finger. Could well be this precocious generation’s Stand by Me.
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.