Gene

We all know being a single parent is rough. Unfortunately for widowed mother Lauren (Emma Wise), her 12-year-old son Gene (Jack Maw) is a particular handful. Now he's in trouble at school for having brought in an especially large hunting knife. Granted, the knife is something of a keepsake -- it belonged to his recently deceased stepfather -- but it's also a deadly weapon. It's a difficult matter to handle, but Lauren absolutely agrees with the head teacher (Tracy Gabbitas): this can never happen again.

But how to make sure of that? That's the tricky part, and Lauren has no one to ask for help. Okay, there is a teacher (Robert Blake) who seems awfully interested in her in general, but I'm not sure he'd be interested in helping her with child-rearing. But she's got a lot to consider and can't talk it over with anyone else. And when she finally takes action, her plan is both simple and frighteningly well thought-out.

The movie manages to be both shocking and understated, no small thing to manage, especially in ten minutes. I've complained before about movies that stop rather than have an ending, because that just feels lazy, but although this film does end abruptly (and left me wishing there was another ten minutes' worth to watch) it fits. You're left just as uncertain and startled as Lauren herself, and it works beautifully.

Four and a half out of five. Every character feels real despite the short time frame, the acting is excellent, and there isn't a wasted word. And though Lauren's solution is hardly typical, every parent can relate to the problems of parents trying to relate to their kids and how best to discipline them. Whether those are really Lauren's only issues or not, I leave to you to decide for yourself.

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Lauren seems nice, but you probably wouldn't want her as your mom.

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