Child actor Owen Kline’s directorial feature debut screened in the Director’s Fortnight at Cannes and allowed audiences to experience the antidote to The Big Bang Theory’s comic book obsession.
Robert is a geeky teenager, his love for comics and cartoons fervently supported by his art teacher Mr Katano. The man’s sudden death inspires Robert to be more courageous, believe in himself and take risks. The 17-year-old leaves the comforts of his bourgeois family home to find a place of his own – a room in a creepy cellar compartment that he has to share with a stranger – and support himself through his attempt of breaking through as an artist. When, on one of his jobs, he meets Wallace, who used to work as a colour separator for comic books, he feels vindicated in his quest and hopes to be taken under the grouchy man’s wing.
Daniel Zolghadri stars as the passionate and somewhat uncomfortable protagonist and masters the gullible hubris of youth. Matthew Maher’s performance as Wallace is a wonderful balance between sympathy-inducing oddball and choleric antagonist. Josh Pais, Maria Dizzia and even Ron Rifkin have brief appearances as Robert’s family.
Just as Robert draws caricatures, the film’s protagonists are all very exaggerated forms of characters: the prim parents, who naturally want their son to go to college; the pervy landlord; Robert’s best friend Miles, who is the acne-prone love child of Jay and Silent Bob. Despite its almost stereotypical depiction of these lonesome figures on the margins of society, the script manages to subvert expectations and actually shock audiences in a rude awakening of this teenage dream of life as an artist.
Funny Pages is, in fact, funny on the page, but leaves the viewer with a bittersweet aftertaste due to its decidedly de-romanticised outlook on coming of age and trying to find one’s place in the world.
Funny Pages does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Cannes Film Festival 2022 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Cannes Film Festival website here.