Reel Affirmations 2003
Review by Randy Shulman
Rating: (1 out of 5)
Saturday, 10/25/2003, 12:00 PM
Feature presentation, $9 at Lincoln Theatre
IF MOVIES WERE doldrums, The Nature of Nicholas would be the biggest ever, running about twice as long as it needs to be — a result of prolonged static silences between each and every line of dialogue.
Nicholas: “I like it here.”
1-one-thousand, 2-one-thousand, 3-one-thousand, 4-one-thousand, 5-one-thousand, 6-one-thousand, 7-one-thou–
Mother: “I used to.” The whole film — THE WHOLE FILM — is played out in this misery-inducing fashion.
Indeed, misery infects The Nature of Nicholas like a cancer as 12-year-old Nicky comes to grips with feelings for his friend Bobby. But after stealing a kiss from Bobby, who reacts with abject disgust, things get strange. Creepy strange. Night of the Living Libido strange.
The personification of Bobby’s repressed gay self shows up at Nicky’s house as a decaying, barely mobile zombie. Nicky keeps the — thing — under his bed, tending to it like a pet. Soon thereafter, the REAL Bobby appears at Nick’s door and insists Nicky give the — thing — back. “It’s mine, after all,” he reasons.
If that weren’t bizarre enough, Nicky’s deceased father begins appearing to the boy, communicating by ramming a surgeon-gloved hand into the backs (and sometimes rumps) of Nicky’s morose mother and her effusive new gentleman friend, manipulating them like ventriloquist’s dummies. It’s a ghoulish ploy that seems only to have been included to add a splash of bright-red blood to the otherwise drab proceedings.
Nicholas is a wan and woeful experience, wielding its metaphors like a really big sledgehammer. We don’t just get the point, it’s beaten into us with tedium, excruciating tedium. To star in his film, Erbach has found two of the most personality-bereft kids alive: Jeff Sutton and David Turnbull, who play Nicky and Bobby as though encased in an soporific stupor. Maybe now that it’s over, they’re off somewhere in the Great White North, roaming, playing, free to be kids again.