And Then I Go

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgas..., Common Sense Media
And Then I Go Movie Poster Image
Outcast teens plan school shooting; violence, cursing.
  • NR
  • 2017
  • 99 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Sometimes the signs that teens are troubled are there but no one seems to be paying attention.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Edwin is a sensitive, bright boy who seems to be clinically depressed; his parents and earnest school staff don't seem to notice. Flake is violent, angry, self-destructive. A teacher and a well-meaning vice principal express a desire and willingness to help Edwin but seem to miss how deeply depressed he is and instead direct him to "socialization" classes.

Violence

Two students enter a gymnasium wielding rifles. One shoots at fellow students. He's shot by a guard. The other doesn't and is wrestled to the ground. Each is beaten up, blood is shown. Another boy appears at school with black eyes. An adult steals a rude boy's ball and shoves the boy. A boy poops on the picnic table of a meddlesome neighbor. A boy calls the Columbine shooters "f--k-ups," implying he could plan a better school shooting.

Sex

A classmate, thinking she is being kind and understanding, tells Edwin and Flake that it's OK to be gay. Boys ask Edwin and Flake if they're sexually experienced, pressing them to define "clit" and to name "how many holes a girl has."

Language

"F--k," "s--t," "bitch," "ass," "clit," "butt," "pissed," "blow," "suck," "skank," "queer," "p---y," "wuss," "screw," "jizz bag," "poop."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that And Then I Go, a 2017 drama, takes the viewer into the heads of two ostracized middle schoolers whose disaffection leads them to plan a school shooting. Violent bullying is seen. A boy is beaten and bloodied. Another has a black eye. A boy with antisocial, seemingly psychopathic tendencies is depicted. He flies into unprovoked violent rages, even against his supposed best friend. The movie is based on Jim Shepard's novel Project X. Language includes "f--k," "s--t," "p---y" and "bitch." Boys ask Edwin and Flake if they're sexually experienced, pressing them to define "clit" and to name "how many holes a girl has."

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What's the story?

AND THEN I GO, based on Jim Shepard's novel Project X, introduces Edwin (Arman Darbo), a childish-looking eighth grader with a sullen attitude. Edwin seems bright and talented but he gives up easily when things don't go his way. He can never open his locker, and when a teacher asks why he doesn't have his textbook in class, he doesn't bother blaming it on the locker. He'd rather seethe and feel unfairly treated than learn to properly work his padlock. But even his rude attitude and offensive language (he uses "f--k" freely) can't hide an underlying intelligence and sensitivity. On the other hand, his best and only friend Flake, the nickname for his neighbor and childhood pal Roddy (Sawyer Barth), is the dictionary definition of loose cannon, a guy who punches before he thinks. His first response to anything -- bullying or kindness -- is belligerence. He's clearly a deeply disturbed kid waiting to erupt and do serious harm to either himself or others. Edwin's parents have good reason to wish their son could find a better friend, but even after Flake beats Edwin up for no good reason, Edwin longs for and reconnects with his old friend. He needs someone, even if it's a narcissist with no capacity for empathy or loyalty. Both greet all overtures from other students, or even caring parents, with hostility, never allowing anyone to get close. One night while looking at Flake's dad's rifles and handgun, Flake proposes they make a plan to shoot up the school. Edwin seems hesitant but goes along, fearful that Flake will drop him if he chickens out. The climax underscores one more difference between the two: Edwin doesn't really want to hurt anyone, not even people who have hurt him, and Flake wants to hurt everyone.    

Is it any good?

This is a puzzling work, addressing worthy issues and creating a portrait of a promising but clinically depressed boy, but it feels as if it doesn't know what to make of the issues it raises. Edwin, as played by the talented Darbo (who looks eerily like Michelle Pfeiffer), is a memorable character, an endearing rebel without a cause who has no tools to cope with his depression and alienation. And it's useful to see how such a confused boy could come under the influence of the truly disturbed neighbor who has been his friend for years.

And Then I Go is disturbing in several ways. The parents don't seem to notice many signs that all is not well. Edwin wakes up in his clothes. He often leaves the house in the middle of his sleepless nights to visit Flake, during which they plan the shooting. And although the school does try to address Edwin's behavior, there's no indication that anyone is trying to help Flake, the far more dangerous boy, suggesting that such kids are going to keep falling through the cracks if no efforts are made to change school and social policies. The film does observe without comment that guns lying around the house can be dangerously misused. The filmmakers cast Edwin as a prepubescent teenager, still a boy really, in contrast to Flake, who has the deep voice, muscles, and peach fuzz of a young man. They've been friends since childhood, but at this stage in their development, they seem mismatched in size and sensibilities. Despite the deliberate casting, the movie never addresses this disparity nor how the gap in physical maturity would manifest in their relationship. And we're certainly left wanting to know why any caring mother wouldn't delve deeper into her child's obvious suffering. The movie seems unaware of the many questions it raises, leaving the viewer ultimately disappointed.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what could have been done to help Edwin and Flake before they felt that mass murder was their best option. The school tried to help Edwin but And Then I Go doesn't show any school intervention with Flake. Why do you think the filmmakers didn't choose to address Flake's problems?

  • How would you describe the difference between Edwin's school troubles and Flake's? Do you think Edwin would have schemed to shoot people if Flake hadn't suggested it? Why or why not?

  • Do you think the parents in the movie weren't paying enough attention to the problems of both Flake and Edwin? Do you think there would have been anything they could have done to intervene? 

  • What should you do if you or someone you know is having a hard time? Who can you talk to?

Movie details

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