Facing your fear is terrifying no matter your age, but the experience is heightened when you’re an adolescent. Teenhood is a time of changes, and changes are scary. Being a teenager with all its new challenges toward adulthood is never easy, and one will often have to go into fight or flight mode to protect yourself from all the pain. This is the main theme of One More Dream, the Ricky Burchell-directed 2022 coming-of-age drama that’s now streaming on Amazon Prime.
One More Dream follows a group of highschoolers dealing with fears in their own way:
Jeremy (David Rand) is the school’s resident smart guy. He earns perfect grades but when it comes to confrontations, he’s a total mess. Jeremy would run at the slightest hint of conflict – When his girlfriend Tiffany (Sarah Jirgal) asks him to defend her from her ex-boyfriend Ethan (Sam Brooks), he chooses to bail rather than risk a brawl in front of the whole school.
Tiffany (Sarah Jirgal) is herself in a secret predicament. The school beauty gets an offer to shoot some racy photos for money and she’s torn about what to do.
Meanwhile, her ex Ethan (Sam Brooks) is a former athlete who’s abandoned sport for drugs. At home, his father beats him for every misdemeanor. Ethan hates Jeremy, whom he accused of stealing his girl. His frustration for being too afraid to stand up for himself further fuels his descent into addiction.
Jules (Emma Duchesneau) is Jeremy’s best friend. Although she always encourages him to be braver, Jules has a secret of her own that she’s been avoiding.
All four characters would go through rollercoaster journeys to find their courage and finally confront their biggest fears. Will they make it and achieve one more dream?
The crisscrossing storylines cover everything: romantic relationship, rivalry, sexual identity, addiction, abuse. But at the heart of it all is this question:
“Fight or flight?”
That is the question constantly haunting the teens in One More Dreams. Both are legit human reactions to fear, but one is revered over the other. In a society that elevates fighting for yourself, running away from it is often shamed. This shame is what Jeremy, Tiffany, Ethan and Jules are struggling with throughout the movie. How can you be your idealized self when you still grapple with your fear?
The script does a good job of articulating this message. It does so with a nuance and empathy toward what the teens are going through, never once straying toward the easy way out.
Overall, it has solid acting across the board, with some better than the others. Young stars David Rand and Emma Duchesneau, in particular, shine the brightest. The two ably carry the weighty storylines assigned to them and the two actors have great chemistry. Sam Brooks has a similarly heavy storyline as a drug addict with an abusive father but his performance is rather mixed – sometimes he aces it, sometimes he falls flat. Sarah Jirgal as Tiffany is more nuanced than she initially appears. It’s good to see a hyperfeminine character not being demonized as the stereotypical “dumb blonde”.
MUSIC AND EDITING
The editing can be a tad unsubtle with its emotional cues. Dramatic scores blares all of a sudden to tell you what to feel during a scene. Quite unnecessary if you ask me because it distracts from the actors performing their scenes, to be honest. However, the choice of music in the movie deserves applause. They are fun and peppy, providing chill moments in between all the teenage angst.
The film, for a 2022 release, has an interesting look. One the one hand, the color palette is vibrant and suitably youthful. On the other hand, the visual appears slightly dated for a portrayal of high school life in 2022. There is something 2010s about the looks of the teenage characters and its aesthetics. For example, there is a brief shot of a character using an iPhone clearly a few generations past that raises a question of when the film’s actually taking place. The wardrobe also screams mid-2000s CW teen show fashion instead of TikTok-influenced Gen Z looks of today. It’s not too distracting but definitely noticeable.
Thankfully, for the most part the cinematography does a great job of providing a suitable look for the story it portrays. There are some ingenious choices such as combining color with black and white during flashback scenes. Those parts look gorgeous and distinctive. Scenes are brightly lit with simple but efficient shots. Overall, it is pleasant to the eyes, visually.
Verdict: One More Dream is a well written coming of age drama with a solid message and a solid performance.