Pendance, a play on ahem, another festival’s name, is a fest that focuses on independent cinema with good writing. And I’ll give its opening film, A.J. Edwards’ Friday Child that. That this movie, as the rest of the fest promises, has a compelling and relate-able story in its foundation. It’s about Richie (Tye Sheridan), an orphan who ages out of Texas’ foster care system. Instead of educating himself, he chooses to work, which is a legitimate choice, but one with too many pressures that leads him into less legitimate ways of paying his bills. He robs his landlady (Brett Butler), the latter ending up dead.
Edwards is also the editor to Terrence Malick’s later films and the comparisons to how both directors capture the mutable experience of young men are inevitable. The thematic similarities are glaringly obvious. Edwards also, and unfortunately, has not learned his master’s more deft hand. There’s this feeling that he puts Richie in different locations for an aesthetic yet aimless purpose. And in some of these locations Richie meets Swim (Caleb Landry Jones), a bad influence on him. Edwards tries to pass Swim off as an otherworldly being but instead of mysterious, his presence feels more obtuse.
Cinematographer Jeff Bierman chooses a 4:3 aspect ratio as well as cool colors, making this film as wintry as Texas can get. In that environment Richie, with Swim’s nudging, robs more places. As Richie, Sheridan does his best. This belongs to the indie side of his CV, adept at playing working class young men. This also shows off his maturity, his perpetually furrowed brow expressing a grounded nature in a character who’s blatantly lost. Despite this, there’s something sadistic about watching these men do what they do in a movie that allows neither levity nor salvation for its characters.
- Release Date: 2/1/2019