The Year That Trembled

on September 12, 2003 by Susan Green
   Although the late 1960s and early 1970s remain ripe for cinematic consideration, few filmmakers ever do the era justice. Writer-director Jay Craven and his large ensemble cast succeed at capturing the nuances of those times. "The Year that Trembled" seems remarkably authentic, in fact. It's the script and some of the performances that undermine this endeavor about the conflicted counterculture in Ohio, where the National Guard killed four anti-war protestors at Kent State University.

   Craven establishes a very sketchy sense of place and the narrative is hard to follow. Jonathan Brandis ("Hart's War") fails to supply the teenaged Casey, an aspiring writer, with any discernable personality. As his girlfriend, Charlie Chaplin's granddaughter Kiera is pretty but vapid. Sean Nelson ("Fresh"), delightful as a spirited Jimi Hendrix fan, saves the day. Ditto for Jonathan Woodward ("Wit"), Marin Hinkle ("Frequency"), Fred Willard ("Best in Show") and Martin Mull ("Mrs. Doubtfire").    Starring Jonathan Brandis, Marin Hinkle, Jonathan Woodward, Sean Nelson, Meredith Monroe, Fred Willard, Martin Mull, Charlie Finn, Jay Ferguson, Bill Raymond, Henry Gibson, Kiera Chaplin and Danica McKellar. Directed and written by Jay Craven. Produced by Scott Lax and Tyler Davidson. No distributor set. Drama. Not yet rated. Running time: 105 min.

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