Saturday, August 6, 2016

'Bridgend' DVD: Compelling Docudrama of Decade-Long Teen Suicide Cluster

  • Bridgend

  • Unreal TV fave Icarus Films, which is best known for "distributing innovative and provocative documentary films," continues expanding into innovative and provocative dramas (that includes the Unreal TV reviewed British character study/murder mystery "I, Anna") with the July 2016 DVD release of "Bridgend." The latter is a character study of newly transplanted teen Sara and her policeman father Dave who end a roughly 10-year absence from the titular small community in Wales when Dave is recruited to investigate a rash of teen suicides. This tale being based on a true (and still-ongoing) plague contributes to the drama.
    The  well-deserved 10 festival awards, including three from the 2015 Tribecca Film Festival, and the additional 14 nominations speak volumes regarding Icarus choosing wisely in adding this film to its catalog. The artistry and power of the film show that even this amount of praise does not go far enough in recognizing its quality.
    Like shows such a current CW drama known to your not-so-humble reviewer as "Pretty Little Vampires," most of "Bridgend" focuses on the culture of the local high school kids that Sara joins early on and to which she becomes a full-fledged member on obtaining access to an online chat room dedicated to the victims. 
    The related tribal and primal elements of the herd of (frequently shirtless and regulalry naked) slim teen boys and uninhibited (only slightly less topless and/or naked) teen girls provide as much power as the theme of "Bridgend" and the additional suicides during it.
    The primal elements continue with the young people gathering in the woods at night by firelight for male bonding and related shows of aggression and for other rituals that include coed skinny dipping and violent casual sex. They additional come together for similar tribal dancing and for vandalism that involves the boys literally marking their territory. Many other scenes further reinforce the pack mentality of these angry young men and women.
    Meanwhile, the cluelessnes and misdirected good intentions of the adults only add fuel to the fire. They simply cannot relate to the kids and fail to see the role that that plays in the crisis.
    The awesome narrative technique of centering the film around newcomer Sara falling deeper under the spell of her peers perfectly illustrates the message behind this docudrama. A climax that involves a heartbreaking act of rebellion is one of the most powerful in more than 90 minutes of compelling scenes.
    On a larger level, having Danish filmmaker Jeppe Ronde behind the camera and in front of the word processor gives this drama an awesome nordic noir vibe that makes good use of the bleak Welsh landscape. Using real local teens as extras enhances this sense of despair and related savagery.
    The fact that everything that makes "Bridgend" so compelling makes it a tough one for parents to watch with teens makes it important that they do so.
    Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Bridgend" is strongly encouraged to either email me or to connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy,