The less-covered story of the American teenager
Thumbsucker, written and and directed by Mike Mills and based on the novel by Walter Kirn, stars Lou Taylor Pucci (The Go-Getter) as Justin, a depressed 17 year old misfit who has a peculiar habbit: sucking his thumb. The film focuses on Justin and his struggle to find himself, deal with his family and relationships, and understand life overall. He seeks answers from those around him, including his younger brother, his parents (with whom he refers to by their first names), his debate teacher (Vince Vaughn), and even his orthodontist (Keanu Reeves).
Throughout the film Justin goes through several changes involving both prescribed and self-medication. As his Mother (Oscar Award Winner Tilda Swinton) seeks her escape in what Justin see’s as a fantasy world, and his father (Vincent D’Onofrio) shields himself from any emotion, Justin is forced to find his own answers by observing these very people around him. By the end of the film Justin ends up learning more about his self through these same people.
In the end when Justin pursues his dream as a TV journalist, we’re given the impression he’s finally become comfortable with himself; a feat many of us would be lucky to achieve in our lifetime. Lou Taylor Pucci portrays the American teenager less-covered in today’s mainstream. We aren’t getting any stuck up brats living it up with no worries here; we’re getting a real tale of the life of someone we all probably knew (or were) back in high school, which is something rarely seen these days. Judging from Pucci’s other films; I’d say he has a bright career ahead of him, not because of his scary ability to play real-life teenage emotional wrecks, but because of his realism and ability to capture the true image of that which is human.
This may not be a film you’ll catch yourself watching over and over, but it’s surely one that will stick with you. This film reminds us all that we’re not the center of the universe; we need to find ourselves and be comfortable with that if we ever want to experience true happiness.
Rating: 5.5 out of 7