Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire
Palmer's film is that rare concert doc that isn't for established fans only.
A woman dances alone in her apartment to the cheese '80s classic “It Takes a Muscle to Fall in Love” by Spectral Display. Her son and daughter look at her swaying from behind her, amused as we all are when we catch people with their guards down. Their mother turns around to reveal running mascara and the expressions on the faces of her children change as well. In many ways, this early scene is what Sam de Jong’s “Prince” is about—posturing and posing that hides something deeper. We are never at our more image-obsessed than in the hazy, horny, love-sick days of our teenage years, and while “Prince” feels a little slight when the credits roll less than 80 minutes after it begins, it’s still a strong, creative addition to the crowded coming-of-age genre.
Our troubled young man this time is named Ayoub (engaging newcomer Ayoub Elasri). His mother is lonely, looking for love online but mostly failing. His half-sister is his most supportive ally, getting him more than the barely-men with whom he spends most of his time hanging out, looking at the common objects of teenage obsession—cars and girls. Ayoub’s dad is a junkie, seen almost entirely in an abandoned, emptied pool in which he shoots up and basically avoids Ayoub’s attempts at connection. At one point, Ayoub tells him, “Dad, I’m in love,” and he just laughs, knowing the trouble such a statement often leads to, and unable to really offer any cogent advice.
Ayoub is in love with a beautiful young woman named Laura (Sigrid ten Napel), who smiles at him and then tells her boyfriend about it. Laura’s boyfriend is one of the older, tougher guys on the other side of the street, and he doesn’t take too kindly to the young punk talking to his girl. Writer/director Sam de Jong crafts parallel groups. Ayoub and his friends are matched across the lot by what they might look like in ten years—another group of dude-bros with more tattoos, muscles, and the beginning of crow’s feet. It’s the same macho bullshit, tinged with more aggression and more failure. And Ayoub wants to nab Laura from its clutches before it’s too late.
At the same time, an even darker predator than Laura’s boyfriend lurks on the fringe of “Prince” in the form of a local gangster named Kalpa (internationally known rapper Freddy Tratlehner). He drives a flashy car and his name is spoken in hushed tones. He’s clearly crazy. Can he teach Ayoub how to stand up for himself? Can he be the father figure this young man so clearly needs but lacks?
This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...
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