Stranded full movie review - A Diamond in the Rough
If you've seen the film, this review is for you.
While Dawn Patol is a flawed film, it's an ambitious attempt to explore serious and universal themes, set against a backdrop of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the economic meltdown of 2008.
The themes include racism, sexism, parenting, what it means to be loyal to friends and family, the search for purpose and the sense of alienation, connection with others and the search for self-identity. Most of the action revolves around Scott Eastwood's John, who has a problem connecting with his parents and who doesn't have a girlfriend (while his brother Ben has sex with every female within his eyesight). He lives with his parents and makes a meager living repairing surfboards, although he's doing arguably better than his father and his father's friends, who have lost their jobs in the recession.
The problem with the movie is a script with situations and dialog that veer into territory that is unintentionally campy. The editing is less less than stellar. As a result, there are some facets to the story that are probably going to be overlooked:
- The film title has a triple meaning. It refers to a military patrol, to surfers who hang out with each other in the morning while waiting for waves, and to the early morning discovery of the dead brother Ben, the budding surfing star and golden child to his parents, on the beach.
- The location of the movie takes place in the water, on the beach and in beach towns, except for one out-of-joint scene when John, is supposed to be in Afghanistan. The scenery, though set within sand dunes, is obviously the same scenery used earlier in the film for the beach, particularly late in the film.
While this may look like an expedient way to portray a desert-like setting it's also a metaphor linking cultural warfare to physical war: John is a fighting the same battle, whether at home with his parents or in a far away war at the behest of the government, a battle that pits the desire to find self-identity with the need to connect with with someone or something larger than himself.
- The underrated actress Julie Carmen plays a pivotal role as the mother of the slain Miguel. Eventually she's revealed as a wealthy, enigmatic, potentially criminal Hispanic living the good life. It's a life in a house behind gates that are the bars that lock her into a prison of her own making. She also serves as a counterpoint to the stereotypical low-life Mexicans we see at the start of the film, where John is hanging out with his father and Ben.
She puts on clothing meant to disguise her identity (presumeably in case she decides to kill John). She morphs into someone else: a Middle Eastern woman, who, like an aggrieved Muslim, insults John by striking him with her shoe.
And where do Mrs. Rivera and John find themselves when he reveals he killed Miguel? On the same sand dunes at the beach that also served as the stand-in for Afghanistan.
By the film's end, John's search for his own identity, for acceptance by his parents and for a deep connection with someone else has led him, sadder and wiser, to the place where that search began, a state of alienation.