Speak (2004) – Overlooked Movies

published on July 2, 2020

welcome back to a segment that I haven't

done in years

my oldest subscribers will remember that

I used to have a segment where I talked

about films that I thought were

overlooked to me these are movies that

flew under the radar not necessarily

movies that a lot of people saw but

maybe people think they're underrated or

underappreciated in some way these are

movies that to me are really good but

that honestly you just don't hear about

people don't talk about them it's hard

to even come by physical copies of them

or maybe they're not even out on blu-ray

there are only three reviews for this

movie on Rotten Tomatoes not even enough

for a tomato meter even after I

published this review it's not gonna

have it tomato meter and what better

shirt to wear when talking about an

overlooked movie actually this is a

complete mistake I sat down and I was

like oh fuck so let's talk about the

film

speak it came out in 2004 it was written

and directed by Jessica chars er based

off of the book by Laurie Halse Anderson

and it starred Kristen Stewart fresh off

of her excellent role in panic room this

movie did not get a theatrical release

it went straight to the Showtime network

it had its premiere at Sundance in 2004

and went straight to TV after that but

basically this movie exists solely on

streaming at this point unless you have

the DVD with its commentaries and things

like that

and I had never really heard of the

movie before in fact the only reason I

even came across it was because I was

searching Kristen Stewart's filmography

to see what else she had done because I

think she is a terrific actress and she

gets a lot of unnecessary hate because

of her roles in Twilight she's a great

actress and if her role in panic room

and directly after this speak have

anything to say she was always a great

actress this movies about a young girl

entering high school and she has decided

to not talk that much she says a few

things here and there to her friends and

family but for the most part she doesn't

want to talk to anybody and you can tell

that something happened to her

throughout the film we slowly uncover

layer by layer a very traumatic event

that ruined her life because of this

event all of her friends at that time

have pushed her away they all avoid her

they spread rumors about her throughout

the school and as I described it it

sounds like your typical teen angsty

movie but

it's really nothing like that this is

one of the most mature explorations I've

seen of trauma from the perspective of a

young person who isn't ready to come to

terms with what happened and doesn't

understand how to explain that to anyone

and keep in mind this movie is 16 years

old in 2004 these types of movies

weren't being made as much a young girl

in high school who's dealing with this

kind of trauma and it's just a

straightforward mature look at how that

can affect somebody and ruin someone's

life you know there's no pop music

there's no teen romance MTV CW shit

these types of movies were few and far

between back then in 2020 there's a lot

more films about women who deal with

predators or sexual harassment Kristen

Stewart is really good in this movie

especially considering how much weight

this story has how important it is to a

lot of people and how a lot of that is

all resting on her shoulders she's

really good in the film and her

performance has a lot of layers to it

you can look at that and say well yeah

she's playing a young teen angsty girl

who doesn't like to talk how hard for

her man that's some real ripe bullshit

performances like this are the ones that

truly test an actor's ability ones where

there's not a lot of dialogue because

it's entirely on that actor and

hopefully a good director to explain the

story out through their face you have to

understand what's going on in their

heads and usually actors and

screenwriters and directors rely on

dialogue to get the point across but

when you don't have anything to say you

have to tell the story on your face so

it's infinitely more challenging and she

is up to the task this was just along

with panic room another early sign that

what she could do as an actress

something I love about this movie is

that it really does feel like you're a

fly on the wall the camerawork feels

invisible you start to not think about

it that's when direction and

cinematography is doing a really good

job when you find yourself not thinking

of the film as a series of shots when

you just get lost in the story and the

camerawork becomes like an objective

observer you're not really an

lysing the camerawork and again you can

look at that and say well that's because

it's very simple camerawork if it looks

really easy it probably wasn't this is

the same DP who later went on to shoot

films like Half Nelson and Blue

Valentine other films that feel like

you're observing real events he has an

excellent way of capturing scenes that

are obviously planned out and structured

and making them feel like they're not

Steve Zahn plays an art teacher and he's

one of the few adults that Kristen

Stewart's character is able to connect

with she finds an interest in art

because he assigns her a topic at the

beginning of the year he says you are

going to craft a tree you're going to

either draw a tree or paint a tree or

sculpt a tree you're going to find a way

to put meaning into a tree in a form of

art and this is very very important to

the traumatic event that occurred to her

in the past I'm not spoiling things in

this movie because I'm as I'm suing you

haven't seen the fucking movie it's

overlooked in my opinion so I don't want

to get into spoilers but the friendship

that develops between them is one of the

most heartwarming aspects of the movie

and both times I've seen the film in the

past week I've cried at the same moment

it's a really beautiful friendship and

Steve Zahn is excellent in the film when

he first showed up I was like Steve Zahn

is an art teacher okay prove me wrong

oh you're proving me wrong you're really

fucking good in this movie okay my bad

and this is just a personal bias but the

film was shot in Ohio and any time a

movie is shot in Ohio I do try to seek

it out because I want to see you know

what people around here have have done

and this movie feels at home to me

because of that like there's just an

aspect of it like I said very very

biased but there's an aspect of it that

just reminds me of home and they also

dealt with some flooding during the

production and they had to find ways

around that to add it into the film or

change scenes and whenever a director

can pull that off then I automatically

have so much more respect for that

person in this case Jessica chars er did

an excellent job directing this movie as

I said already I never really felt like

I was watching a planned series of

events there are very few movies where

you can't really see the structure like

I just didn't think of this movie and

simple three-act structure while

watching it those thoughts didn't come

into my mind I was just lost in these

characters there's also scenes that feel

risky and that they don't really feel

like something important is happening

there's a sequence where she just

decides to ditch school one day go to a

hospital and jump in a bed and pretend

to be a patient because she just wants

to see if anyone will notice that she

doesn't belong there those scenes that

some people might consider meaningless

and you should probably cut them out of

your script because it does nothing for

your characters really sometimes can

help your movie because you really just

notice how lost she feels that she's

just wandering away from society and

seeing if anyone even notices I would

highly recommend checking out speak

especially if you like smaller films

like this please do not expect this to

be some Christopher Nolan epic drama

this is a very small scale slice of life

kind of movie that I really respect I

would love to be able to make a film

like this one day and have it feel as

real as this movie does I'm not gonna

grade it in fact going forward with the

Overlook movie segment I'm not gonna

grade any of them similar to how I don't

grade hilarious ities you guys watch a

hilarious 'ti you know how I feel about

that movie you don't need me to say well

this one gets a D or something like

that's just stupid for this segment it's

obvious that I like the movie and I'm

telling you that you should probably

check it out sometime if you can but

something else I'd like to do with this

segment going forward is hopefully find

a way that I can talk to somebody

involved in the production and do an

interview and share that with you guys

as well because specifically for this

movie doing research on it I had a

really hard time finding out anything

really there were not a lot of

interviews there wasn't a lot of footage

behind the scenes or anything like that

so I reached out to Jessica chars er the

writer director and she sat down with me

and we did an interview through Skype

and I'm gonna be uploading that in a day

or two she dropped a lot of bombs about

this movie just all kinds of stuff about

how she made it getting the job getting

the script greenlit challenges during

production it was really fascinating for

me especially as not just as a fan of

the movie but as somebody who wants to

make films professionally I was

fascinated and I think that if you're in

this

boat and you also want to make films

you're gonna enjoy that interview but

it's also a great source for learning

more about this movie because I just

couldn't really find much info about it

so that'll be up in a few days and I

hope you guys enjoy it I'm really

looking forward to continuing this

segment I'm not gonna do it like super

regularly all the time I just really

want to sit back and try to locate

movies that I think are special that

there's just not that much info about

them people aren't really talking about

them and for me this was one of them

guys thank you so much as always for

watching please do look forward to more

reviews very soon and if you like this

you can click right here and get stuck

mine eyes

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