When Dreams are Broken
Owen (the very cute Alex Linz) is an idealistic fifteen year old boy who gets the chance of a lifetime when U.S. Senate candidate, Lawrence Connor, chooses him to be the youth spokesman for his political campaign. Own then is exploited by the media and we get to see just how cut throat politics can be,
Owen is at the top of his middle school class and he is anxious to know how the world works. He is a loner, preferring to study rather than make friends and his life is somewhat mundane. When he meets Congressman Lawrence Connor (Steven Weber) his life changes. He also meets Connor’s young nephew, Caleb (Escher Holloway) who is quite taken with Owen as his uncle who is amazed at the student’s intelligence and quick wit. Caleb and Owen forge a deep bond and Connor offers Owen a chance to learn about the world of politics by offering him the position of youth campaign spokesman. Owen is delighted as it is a chance for him to learn as well as to earn some cash but little by little he discovers the truth about politics and the deranged world in which he has become involved. Here is a coming-of-age story that takes place when one youth realizes the flaws and corruption of his society and thinks about what he can do about it.
Alex Linz turns in an amazing performance as he discovers that politicians are without soul and to what they will do to gain and keep power. “Choose Connor” is about the loss of innocence as it is a tense political thriller that pulls you in as it rings close to life.
Directed by 21 year old Luke Eberl, we meet a director who is going to do some great things. He pulls apart the underbelly of the American political system and although we have had movies like this before (“Advice and Consent”, for one), it is the way the story is resented that makes this film special. The plot is presented “parable” style with vignettes in which the message is presented as double-entendre. You feel constantly that there is something quite awful lurking somewhere but you do not know exactly what it is. When the evil is revealed, you are able to breathe those breaths that you were not aware you were holding in. I felt quite sad and somewhat lost.
Quite simply, it seems to me, the message is that we should not make politicians out to be idols because we think they represent the best possible solutions.
The movie is quite strong but it actually could have been stronger. When a hero falls, we see that it is quite devastating to those who worship him and when Connor falls, Owen is beside himself as he watches the idealism he had shatter into thousands of pieces.
As Connor, Weber turns in an excellent performance. He manages to be charming, sneaky and greasy all at the same time and is convincing as a man with a deep and dark secret who has discovered safety in the pursuit of power. He is both sincere and manipulative and the scene is which he cries is very hard to watch.
At times, however, I did find Eberl’s cynicism to be unrelenting and therefore there are some parts of the film that are somewhat awkward. There is not a great deal new to learn that politicians are not beacons of moral fortitude and ethical leadership—we surely have seen that in the last few years. This is a wonderful debut film from Luke Eberl and I predict that he will be a big name in the future. If he tightened this film just a little more, it would have been brilliant.