The Good, The Bad,
The Interesting

Chronicle is a found footage exploration of teenage male homosociality. With flying.

The Good:

Here’s the brilliance of Chronicle: telekinesis allows the character in control of the camera to position himself in front of it, so director Josh Trank gets to play with the found footage fourth wall and feature shots like this:

As the film approaches its climax, Chronicle uses more and more footage in which the camera isn’t “held” by a character (e. g., security cameras, helicopters). The film’s ultimate showdown is strangely beautiful:

The final sequence must have been a hell of a challenge to assemble, and I think Trank really nailed it.

The Bad:

If you’ve seen the trailer, you may be wondering: Does Chronicle features any female characters other than the little girl the guys torment, the woman they prank, and the naked chick they chase with a camera?

The answer is yes. There’s also a mother destined for the refrigerator and a young woman who gets barfed on.

Thankfully, the naked chick scene was cut, at least from the version I saw in theaters. (Or it was edited into the trailer to titillate.) You can tell that the filmmakers tried to make Ashley Hinshaw’s character intelligent and independent (I think?), and she does get to tell one of the three guys, “I’m not your mother.” But her character has zero impact on Chronicle’s main story arc. Aside from functioning as a subplot love interest for one of the main male characters, she seems to operate as nothing more than a pretty face to hold another camera.

The Interesting:

Though Chronicle fucks up a lot with its relegation of women to the stereotypical sidelines, its portrayal of straight male friendship are full of win.

Pop culture’s depictions of friendships between young men are often constrained by a code of “no homo” masculinity. You wouldn’t glean it from the trailer, but one of this movies many takeaways is that it’s okay for straight teen guys to hug, to fall asleep in the same room, to ask “Do you like me?” and to say “I love you.”

The friendship between Andrew, Matt, and Steve is characterized by youthful exuberance and enthusiasm. Wouldn’t you hug your friend if you’d just learned you both have superpowers?

Another takeaway is that superpowers can’t fix real life problems, but damn they look cool from a helicopter.

Have you seen Chronicle? What was your takeaway? Spoilers encouraged…

4 thoughts on “Chronicle:
The Good, The Bad,
The Interesting

  1. I’ve had mixed feelings about this flick since I first caught the trailer. Wow, another movie about the exploration of Male Entitlement via Super Powers!

    Been there, done that, kthx.

    But three people whom I admire the most in regards to movies have ALL said this movie is worth watching. Mostly for the reasons you yourself noted: the clever cinematography, the depiction of male friendship (ie, the lack of “no homo” fist bumping substitutions), and you know: telekinesis.

    But all three of those people, whose opinions I respect? Dudes. All dudes. I really don’t have any nearly-as-savvy-about-movie-making female friends as I do male, and while this isn’t usually a problem nine times out of ten, it can make situations sticky when I try to explain that I don’t understand why the main character just HAD to be a Straight White Male when the same compelling story could have been told from the POV of a POC Woman.

    “Oh, it’s about fathers and sons!” Because mothers and daughters are boring?

    “It’s about a boy growing into a man!” Because a girl becoming a woman is lame?

    So… yeah. While I don’t NOT want to see Chronicle, I’m probably going to Netflix this one. It’s my version of voting with my wallet: I’ll watch your thing if it lands in my living room, but I’m not going to fluff your Weekend Box Office Numbers with my money if you can’t be bothered to tell stories that include me.

    • I totally respect voting with your wallet on this one, Laura. I’m a big fan of found footage films, and I couldn’t pass this one up. The big names in the genre (Blair Witch, Cloverfield, Paranormal Activity) have all featured at least one female protagonist, and I was disappointed that this super awesome looking movie seemed to offer nothing but dudes.

      I went into the film expecting to be stunned by its visuals and pissed at its relegation of women to the subplots and sidelines, and that’s exactly how I came out of it.

      Also, SPOILER ALERT: the black dude dies first.

      I do feel that Chronicle’s depiction of teen male friendship warrants praise, but I completely agree with your frustration at many men’s inability to understand why we women are sick of yet another movie featuring a straight white male protagonist.

      Earlier this week, Meryl Streep remarked on men’s inability/unwillingness to identify with female protagonists: “[I]t became obvious to me that men don’t live through the female characters.”

      It blows my mind that so many guys don’t see that this is a problem, and won’t listen to women who express their frustration at being marginalized.

  2. The blogger/love-interest lady confused me. i guess this is a spoiler alert kind of thing, so beware, spoilers ahead, but her character basically has no ending. she’s dropped out of a building and saved by the guy, only to immediately be dropped out of the script. i felt like i wanted to like her character and was trying to like it, but i didn’t get it.

    One of my favorite scenes in the movie is the one right after the three guys go for their first flight session, and they’re freaking out and hugging each other and shouting “WE CAN FLY” and it was just such a happy moment and i think i caught myself smiling stupidly when i watched that scene.

    I also agree with what i got from an earlier discussion with you about the talent show scene. it was very well done and i am definitely sure i smiled stupidly during that one.

    • Yeah, he rescues her and leaves her, The End. Takeaway: she doesn’t matter.

      The talent show was a total joy moment for me. I don’t think our smiles were stupid though; I think we were touched by the popular guy helping the awkward guy look super cool. And their presentation of the tricks was pretty snazzily executed.

      Thanks for being my co-thinking movie buddy on this one, lady!

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