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2:37

Year: 2006
Production Co: Kojo Pictures
Director: Murali Thalluri
Writer: Murali Thalluri
Cast: Teresa Palmer, Mami Spillane, Gary Sweet, Frank Sweet
I hadn't seen Gus van Sant's Elephant at the time of seeing this movie and writing this review, and I understand 2:37 is so similar the first time writer/director has been bagged for ripping it off.

But I have to call them as I see them in the canon of my viewing history, and this is the most affecting and brutal film I've seen all year.

A microcosm of teen misery, it centres on six teenagers at a suburban school, all with horrific things to deal with ranging from disability to bulimia, denied homosexuality to incestual rape and the crushing pressure of parents' expectations.

It starts with what we assume is a suicide behind the locked door of a school utility room, and then we track the six protagonists through their school day, all with a menacing sense of dread as we know it's one of them who does it without being sure who.

Director Thalluri employs a lot of style to tell the story, fracturing scenes by having them cross more than once so we see the other character's point of view. The mood is soft and sombre but the most effective element is the soundtrack. Brooding, ominous music plays throughout and is backed by an orchestra of horrific noises, faint screams and cries that both speak the characters' inner lives and that of how we feel.

Then we're treated to the piece de resistance; the most harrowing movie death I've ever seen as the self-inflicted victim writhes on the floor in agony, slices her wrist and lays there slowly dying. It's an emotional battering ram, taking a full several minutes during which we aren't allowed to look away but stay in the room with the victim, listening to her agonised cries and watching her bleed to death.

The fact that she's someone you'd never expect is the whole point of the film, and by the time it's over you'll feel sick, disturbed, miserable and fragile. Like Passion of the Christ, this isn't a movie to be enjoyed with popcorn on a Friday night, it's a trial to be endured, but as not only an important subject but a brilliant piece of filmmaking, it's one we should all go through.

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