The four tween girls blocking the theater door, giggling, and dancing over the threshold in some weird game that only makes sense to tween girls should have been my omen: I had made the choice that was bound to make me the most uncomfortable.
Earlier in the day I had announced my boredom with Holocaust movies and asked which of Twilight or Bolt was less creepy to see by myself. Replies were mixed, but definitely skewed toward seeing Bolt.
I should have listened to this slight majority.
But no, instead I "excuse me’d" past the girls and walked up the stairs to the back row of the theater and settled in for the "clueless kid meets another kid, an "other", a foil, with unhealthily pale skin and messed up teeth and together they challenge the oppressive blond enemy and teach him a lesson" flick.
Surprisingly, I found their fantastical relationship really believable. I didn’t expect to. There were a lot of ways the director and the actors could have failed, and they just didn’t. Every detail, like the pale kid’s obsession with his food, made everyone seem more human, not less. It worked. I bought it all. And I was really, really invested in their relationship, and affected by the stress their being together brought into not only their own lives but into the lives of those around them. As I said, it was the uncomfortable choice.
Holocaust movies always are.
P.S. As I was watching it I kept thinking "this is really a movie that ought to be watched in conjunction with Pan’s Labyrinth." And there are a lot of reasons why that is the case, and I thought about writing this post as a compare/contrast/argument review of both movies. But this was more fun.