Twelve and Holding (Cuesta, 2006)

A devastating portrait of modern American childhood, Twelve and Holding uses a brilliant script and haunting performances to dissect complications of identity plaguing modern American youths. Director Michael Cuesta crafts a tender but brutally honest look at the varied emotional and physical responses three twelve year old’s have after a shared traumatic event. When Jacob’s twin brother Rudy is killed in a brutal accident, he and his friends Malee and Leonard become forces of change, for better or worse, within their respective family structures. But the filmmakers of Twelve and Holding don’t make the story-line or the adult characters simple or simple-minded. Instead, the film treats adults and children as apart of the same complicated, diverse universe filled with connective tissue of heartache and misunderstanding. The interactions between these kids, longing to find themselves amidst a season of tragedy, haunts the film to it’s core, their words so telling about circumstance and change. Hard to watch at times, Twelve and Holding dares to show kids and parents on the same moral ground, both adhering to social codes of order, but at the same time attempting to find solace in the personal choices they make.Most of all, Twelve and Holding is about what happens when children are forced to become adults before they are ready. When their parents recede into depression and denial, Jacob, Malee, and Leonard each have to become decision makers, essentially growing up before their time. The most fascinating thing about Cuesta’s film happens to be his complex decisions toward representing each character as completely different, yet essentially connected by their own shared experiences and tragedies. This is another amazing directorial effort by Cuesta, which follows his great L.I.E. and durable work on Six Feet Under and Dexter, both mesmerizing shows dealing with death in their own, unique and contemplative ways.

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