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DVD Review: Daydream Nation

May 17, 2011

Daydream Nation – An eOne Films’ Release

http://www.daydreamnationmovie.com/

DVD Release Date: May 17th, 2011

Rated 14A for sexual content and coarse languge

Running time: 98 minutes

Mike Goldbach (dir.)

Mike Goldbach (writer)

Ohad Benchetrit (music)

Kat Dennings as Caroline Wexler

Reece Thompson as Thurston

Josh Lucas as Barry Anderson

Andie MacDowell as Enid Goldberg

Our reviews below:

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Daydream Nation DVD Review By John C.

**1/2 (out of 4)

Over the opening scene of Daydream Nation, 17-year-old Caroline Wexler (Kat Dennings) tells us in voice over that “this is the year in which everything happened.”  Caroline has just moved from the city to a small town with her father, where she finds herself in a bizarre love triangle.  Out of pure boredom she seduces her teacher, Mr. Anderson (Josh Lucas), and starts going out with an emotionally troubled classmate, Thursten (Reece Thompson).  But there is also a serial killer on the loose and an ever-burning chemical fire just outside of town to add an underlying sense of dread.

A lot does indeed happen in Mike Goldbach’s Daydream Nation, and this a highly stylized film both in look and tone.  Certain sub-plots feel tacked on and don’t add much to the story, but Dennings nicely handles her first leading role as the film builds up to a beautiful final scene.  Those interested in Canadian cinema will surely want to have a look, but its appeal outside of that market will seem limited.

The DVD includes a ‘behind the scenes’ featurette.

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Daydream Nation DVD Review by Erin V.  

** (out of 4)

Daydream Nation follows the life of main character Caroline (Kat Dennings) who in her senior year of highschool seduces her teacher.  In the small town where they live, apathy abounds amongst the teenagers and many of them turn to drug abuse.  To raise tensions further, there is a serial killer on the loose.

This was an alright film with fine performances, but in the end, Daydream Nation really is just the kind of Canadian indie I’ve come to expect, with its existential undertones.  Personally it’s interesting to watch once, but the wrap-up (before the final scene) is kind of contrived, and it will be a little weird for many.  Basically, it’s not really a mainstream film, although those interested in Canadian cinema may want to rent this one.

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Daydream Nation DVD Review By Nicole

**1/2 (out of 4)

Daydream Nation tells a story about a city girl’s coming of age in a small town.  Caroline Wexler (Kat Dennings) is bored in the small town where her single dad has moved to.  In an effort to cure her boredom, Caroline starts an affair with her teacher, Mr. Anderson (Josh Lucas).  Meanwhile, Caroline captures the interest of a lonely stoner named Thurston (Reese Thompson), resulting in a love triangle between the two 17-year-olds and their teacher.

This is an interesting film, narrated by the lead character through a featured narrative.  A needless sub-plot about a serial killer serves only to add suspense to a film that doesn’t need any.  However, the acting and dialogue here is good.  Daydream Nation is ultimately an independent Canadian film that is worth checking out.

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Daydream Nation DVD Review By Maureen

**1/2 (out of 4)

Daydream Nation is an interesting indie effort by Canadian writer/director Mike Goldbach.  There are a whole lot of storylines going on in this teen drama, yet Goldbach manages to pull it all together without descending into total melodrama.  The movie works mostly due to a solid performance by Kat Dennings as the 17-year-old lead, Caroline Wexler.

The story is told from Caroline’s point of view through voice over and flashbacks.  Caroline comes from a big city, is cynical and seems older than her seventeen years.  When she is forced to move to a new school in a small town, Caroline finds ways to liven things up for herself.  First, there’s her attractive young teacher, Mr. Anderson (Josh Lucas) who doesn’t have a problem with a little inappropriate extra-curricular activity.  Then there’s a troubled classmate, Thurston (Reese Thompson) who has a major crush on Caroline.  The inevitable love triangle evolves and eventually resolves itself in a satisfying conclusion.

The sub-plot about a local serial killer seems somewhat pointless and serves only to add tension to various scenes.  There’s enough teen drama involving sex and drugs that provides its own natural tension levels.  Daydream Nation is an interesting enough coming-of-age story for those who like Canadian indie films, and it’s worth checking out for Kat Dennings’ perfrmance.

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Daydream Nation DVD Review By Tony

*** (out of 4)

Caroline (Kat Dennings) has moved with her widowed father to a small town with more than its share of problems. Aside from rampant drug use at the high school, there is a serial killer on the loose who has already claimed several young victims and an industrial fire on the outskirts that has gone on for weeks, with increasing numbers of people walking around in gas masks. Caroline wastes no time seducing the only interesting person she finds–her teacher Barry (Josh Lucas) who we discover has serious issues of his own. She also takes up with Thurston (Reece Thompson), a stoner student mourning the loss of a friend in a car crash, with the encouragement of his mother (Andie MacDowell).

Daydream Nation, written by Canadian Michael Goldbach, is the first feature he has directed, after an eight year wait. Though it is dark and complicated with overlapping story lines, there is ample wit and a good sense of mystery and foreboding that rushes headlong to a climax before the final resolution and a memorable closing shot. In her first major starring role, Kat Dennings carries the film brilliantly, like other bright young actresses such as Ellen Page able to hold her own in every scene, usually as the smartest one in the room. Rounding out the maximum three alien headliners in this Canadian production, Josh Lucas and Andie MacDowell are also strong, as are Reece Thompson and the rest of the Canadian cast. Well backed up with a score of appropriate tunes assembled by Goldbach, the overall production is impressive given its limited budget.

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Consensus: Director Mike Goldbach’s Daydream Nation is held together by a good leading performance from Kat Dennings, however the tone is highly stylized and a few of the many sub-plots feel needless in this interesting little Canadian drama.  **1/2 (Out of 4)

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