Delinquent

on December 31, 2006 by Lael Loewenstein
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Uneven at best and tedious at worst, "Delinquent" is the story of 15-year-old Tim (Desmond Devenish), a run-of-the-mill teenager who persists in his troublemaking despite the angry objections of his father (Jeff Paul), a hard-drinking, short-tempered cop. Once a promising student, Tim has decided, in the wake of his mother's recent suicide, to blame his father and give up his schoolwork. Unable to tolerate either his father's threats or their claustrophobic trailer home, Tim runs away and begins to concoct an elaborate fantasy life.
   In the empty house where he hides out, Tim discovers a video of Tracy, a precocious teenager who wears sexy lingerie, obsesses over her English professor and clearly reads too much Virginia Woolf. Though Tim desires her, the two never meet. But writer/director Peter Hall teases our expectations in two near-encounters, the second of which unites them in an ironic tragedy.
   That scene, the film's chilling conclusion, is its strongest, vacillating between fantasy and reality in a way that deftly illustrates Tim's confused mental state. Hall deserves praise for an audacious ending that is "Delinquent"'s least predictable moment. But it comes too late: 78 minutes of weak dialogue, facile plot points and amateurish acting having preceded it, the final scene is like frosting without a cake.
   That is not to suggest Hall is without potential: In this, his first feature, he demonstrates a flair for psychological tension while retaining a sense of mystery that recalls the works of Rohmer and Chabrol. With a few more drafts and a stronger cast, he might have made a stunning film. Starring Desmond Devenish, Shawn Batten and Jeff Paul. Directed, written and produced by Peter Hall. A Rice Arts release. Drama. Unrated. Running time: 84 min.
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