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Review: Stealing Cars

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William H. Macy and Emory Cohen in Stealing Cars

Stealing Cars is a new film from Bradley Kaplan, which sets out to look at the juvenile detention system of the United States. We follow the main character, Billy Wyatt (Emory Cohen), a clever kid who goes off the rails and ends up in Bernville Camp for Boys. From there he uses his wits and photographic memory to help him make it through.

The film has a great cast. Cohen is supported by John Leguizamo, Heather Lind, Mike Epps, William H Macy, and Feliciy Huffman.

So far so Cool Hand Luke and it seems that the filmmakers were trying to capture the magic of that film, along with a few others where the main character rebels against authority. On the whole it works well. There are some great characters and the film is a powerful, gritty indie drama on the whole. However, it is let down in places.

The main problem I had was with the main character of Billy. In these type of films we know that they are not supposed to be a nice person, however we are supposed to like them or at least root for them. Just think of Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Yet for most of Stealing Cars, Billy comes across as an arrogant, obnoxious person who I found hard to like. The scene were he quotes Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is supposed to make us realise that he is somehow special, but it just seemed forced and unreal. I am not sure whether it was a result of the script or Cohen’s performance, but the fact I didn’t like the main character made it hard to enjoy the film.

That’s a shame as there are great things. The supporting cast do amazing work, unsurprising as they are all fantastic actors. John Leguizamo is Billy’s counselor and he plays it very well. I always enjoy seeing Leguizamo. However, it was Mike Epps as Sheriff Till that stole the film for me. He does amazing work, but is only in the film briefly. The same goes for William H Macy and Felicity Huffman. They do good things with the brief time they have.

The way the film unfolds and the characters back stories are full of cliche, but they are not too distracting.

On the whole a good little indie thriller let down, for me, by the main character.

3-out-of-5

Stealing Cars is out now on DVD & Digital Download from Lionsgate Home Entertainment

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