A scene from "Pavilion." (Handout )
Observant but not revealing, free-form but not quite experimental, the obliquely titled "Pavilion" is a mood piece in search of a construct. That doesn't make writer-director Tim Sutton's brief debut feature hard to watch, but viewers expecting anything remotely resembling a satisfying narrative may be mystified by this lyrical look at teenage downtime.
The closest we get to an actual story here finds 15-year-old Max (Max Schaffner) enjoying his last days — bicycling, swimming, wandering — in the idyllic upstate New York town where he lives with his mom before moving to Arizona to be with his father. Once out west, Max adjusts to life in a scorched suburb, finds new friends and is soon passing the time, uh, bicycling, swimming and wandering. Occasionally, focus drifts to another kid in Max's drowsy sphere. That's about it.
But for Sutton, that's clearly enough as, according to the film's press notes, he set out to capture youthful aimlessness without telling audiences what to think. Thus, only bits of fleeting dialogue offer any character or event context; what you see is pretty much what you get.
Fortunately, what we see is often vivid and lovely (except for that head-stapling bit — no thanks), due to Chris Dapkins' fine-eyed digital cinematography, camera-friendly locations and Sutton's gently expressive cast of nonprofessional actors.
"Pavilion." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 8 minutes. At the Downtown Independent, Los Angeles.
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