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Turning Points
gradyharp4 July 2006
EIGHTEEN as written and directed by Richard Bell may have a few too many stories to tell simultaneously for a 102 minute movie to completely succeed, but there is such a fine sense of commitment on the part of all the cast and crew that the viewer ends up wanting the movie to work - and so it does. Yes, aspects could have been finessed if the producers had more money to spend on the final cut, but as a small independent movie from Canada this is a tender, gently humorous, very touching tale about vulnerability and communication and commitment. It works on many levels.

In a very well choreographed opening we are voyeurs at a family dinner where obviously something has gone awry and results in a father and two sons taking off in a car and having an accident in which one of the sons is killed. With an introduction like that the mood is set for the surviving 18-year old Pip son (Paul Anthony - looking far too old for credibility as a teenager) to desert his family and live on the streets. He meets Clark (Clarence Sponagle) a male prostitute who gives Pip food and shelter, Jenny (the very fine Carly Pope) who saves him from a bashing by her associate Derek (Ryan McDonell) and becomes romantically entangled with Pip, and Father Chris (Alan Cumming) in a finely wrought sympathetic role as a priest. It is Pip's 18th birthday and his father (Serge Houde) traces Pip down to give him a present from his deceased grandfather with instructions the gift should be opened on Pip's 18th birthday.

Pip, though drinking too much and full of anger, pawns the tape machine but keeps the tape and begins to listen to the words of his grandfather Jason (voice by Ian McKellen) who recounts his own 18th birthday in WW II in France where he (now the very sensitive actor Brendan Fletcher) has an experience with a wounded medic named Macauley (Mark Hildreth, also superb) and reflects on his one night marriage with a cabaret singer Hannah (Thea Gill of 'Queer as Folk' fame and a fine singer and actress here), only for something to live for during the war: Jason offers succor to Macauley as he dies, with a beautiful scene of redemption for he two men at the end. The parallels of Pip and grandfather Jason interplay every time Pip listens to the tape and lead Pip to ultimately alter his view of life and love. Subplots include Clark's isolated existence as a hustler being altered by Jeff (David Beazely - in a surprisingly fine film debut) who simply wants to be loved; by an unexpected pregnancy between Jenny and Pip; by the trust Father Chris instills in both Pip and Clark in a good shepherd's manner: and by a flashback to the car accident where Pip could have saved his brother Daniel (Paul Dzenkiw) from an abusive act at the hands of his father, just before the accident, but failed to do so, opening his deep guilt and resultant misplaced anger, mirrored by his grandfather's taped experiences. Each of these subplots pulls together at the end, creating a sense of closure for each of the people involved.

There are aspects of this film that make it seem like a big budget production: the musical score by Bramwell Tovey is performed by the Vancouver Symphony members, the cinematography by Kevin Van Niekerk is aptly atmospheric, and the general quality of acting by this Canadian cast is very fine. Though Paul Anthony handles his role well, casting a very young teenager in the pivotal main role would have made the story work much better, and Richard Bell, with only one other film 'Two Brothers' on his resume, gives promise of a young talent to watch. Despite the shortcomings, EIGHTEEN is a worthwhile film and deserves attention. Grady Harp
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Complex emotional "vortex" of a film is a worthy effort, but ...
camelwest30 June 2006
"Eighteen" (2004) tells the story of Pip Anders, a depressed and extremely cynical young man who is estranged from his dysfunctional upper/middle class family and living on the streets of Vancouver. On his 18th birthday, he receives a cassette tape and player from his recently-deceased grandfather, relating his memoirs of his own 18th birthday, spent serving with the British army in France, trying to help a mortally-wounded comrade avoid capture by the occupying Germans. As Pip listens to the tape (Ian McKellen provided the voice of his grandfather), we see the scenes he is describing as flashbacks, alternating with daily scenes of Pip's life, as well as more recent flashbacks filling in the dark secret why Pip left home and finds it impossible to trust anyone who is nice to him.

An ambitious second film from writer/director Richard Bell ("Two Brothers"), with a polished look, excellent photography, well-developed non-stereotypical characters (with gay and straight treated equally), and commendable efforts in emotionally and physically-demanding roles from some talented new actors (especially Paul Anthony as Pip and Brendan Fletcher as his grandfather at 18). There is also a noteworthy turn by Alan Cummings as a priest who tried to help Pip, and a small supporting role played by Thea Gill ("Queer As Folk"). The complex story - in the director's own words in his DVD commentary - is meant to drive a "vortex of emotion" pushing Pip to his breaking point, and it certainly accomplishes that. My only criticisms are that the overall effect is too "schmaltzy" or artificial for an audience to truly identify with, much of the supporting dialog (and the ending) too contrived and predictable, and the direction needed to be sharper to curtail sloppy overacting in some scenes. I do recommend it, 7 stars out of 10, including extra points for a noteworthy effort.
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Expected a little, but got a lot.
mtaffeot5 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I rented this movie with very low expectations, but was pleasantly surprised. This movie is extremely good stuff. And one would never guess it was low budget.

EIGHTEEN, directed by 'Richard Bell' centers around an 18 year old named Pip, played by the superb 'Paul Anthony' who leaves his home because of the circumstances surrounding the way his older brother died. He is overcome with guilt by this event and falls into a hard life of a runaway teen on drugs and alcohol. On his 18th birthday, his father tracks Pip down and gives him a tape left for him by his grandfather, of which he was to listen to on his 18th birthday.

The way the whole film is told is with two simultaneous stories unfolding at the same time. The present life of Pip and the past life of his grandfather during WW11 of which Pip listens to on the tape.

The three outstanding performances in this movie are the ones from 'Paul Anthony' as Pip and 'Brenden Fletcher' playing Jason, the young 18 year WW11 soldier, his grandfather. Also, the role of the WW11 wounded medic 'Macauley' played by 'Mark Hildreth.' All putting in fine performances.

A couple of concerns and scenes that didn't sit too well with me...the priest, Father Chris played by 'Alan Cumming' who is gay and in broad daylight pick's up the local street hustler the whole neighborhood knows about. And then we have the local store clerk named Jeff, a sweetheart played by the attractive 'David Beaszely' who just wants to be loved, and for some unknown reason is attracted to the very unattractive and sleaze ball street hustler, Clerk, who sleeps with just about anyone and in all likelihood is a walking toxic time bomb. On top of all that he's not a very likable person. This part just didn't ring true.

The parts I really like the most was the flashbacks to the War. They were so well acted and very touching. There is a scene at the end where the one soldier is dying and the other soldier, 'Jason' is there for him to comfort and show him love as he lays badly injured and dying. This is such a wonderful and touching scene it left me in tears. Beautifully acted.

I highly recommend this movie. It is one of love, redemption and the power of the human spirit to survive.
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firstoffence0612 December 2005
This film was incredible! Looked high budget but felt heartfelt and original like an Indie. The most amazing part of this film were the astonishing performances by David Beazely, Mark Hildreth and Paul Anthony who plays the main role. He carried this film with ease, humor and charisma balanced with a huge depth.

The cinematography was really beautiful even though some of the subject was quite ugly. It wasn't very realistic in that way but it didn't have to be to make a larger point. It was really great seeing Alan Cumming in this too. The script was tight and propelled very nicely with some of the best acting I've seen in a while.

Go see this.
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Eighteen is not a gay film
rrs13131328 February 2008
I read a viciously hidden remarks on a previous comments stating that this film showed a bunch of gay guys romping around their gayness.

This couldn't be more misleading. "Eighteen" is not a gay film. It has only three gay characters in it and one of them is the victim of prejudice of people like the one who wrote the comments, despite his confession of fairness.

Pip's grandfather was not gay. The tender scene of the soldier and his sergeant is male bonding at the crucial moment of death. But some people gets appalled by a kiss and welcome scene of guts flying out of a man killed by a bomb.

The focus of the film is the straight relationship of Pip and that sweet girl and their facing their social obligation and parenthood.

Ralph Rewes www.r1313.info
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OK but not great
artzau4 August 2006
It's nice to see a film from Canada with a Canadian focus. We Yanks tend to be a bit parochial in that if it ain't American, it can't be much good-- after all, we invented movies and hey, where's Hollywood anyway? This little film which gives us several peeks into Canadian middle class which isn't much of a departure from what some American Indie would have made about marginalized people, e.g., street people, hustling gay men, etc. The story line which begins confusedly and pops back and forth from flashbacks to back-story, then fuses the two in a very confounding manner to bring the viewer back to the present and then a quick cut to the future at the end. This is a morality tale of redemption, suffering and quasi-resurrection, melded into a young man's odyssey seeking virtue in an amoral world. The acting is generally weak: Pip the main character is completely unconvincing as an innocent youth wandering lost because of self-loathing and self-betrayal. He comes off as a spoiled brat who loathes anything smacking of responsibility more than he abominates his own self-perceived and self-condemned failings; Paul Anthony neither looks nor acts 18 in this role. His counterpart in the back story, Brandan Fletcher is quite convincing of the 18 year old Jason, caught in the throes of WW1, helping a dying comrade and having to kill or be killed. Indeed, the contrast is notable and highlights Anthony's not too attempts at misplaced and miscounted youth. Carly Pope is charming as the girl-friend albeit her love interest in a young spoiled homeless kid does not come across very well. David Beazley and Clarence Sponagle are fine in their roles of young gay men attempting a relationship and Serge Houde as Pip's hypocritical beast of a father and the ever brilliant Alan Cummings as the gay Priest gives the story the necessary added texture of complexity, duplicity and ambiguity. All in all, a decent film that could have admittedly better but then too, it could have been disastrously worse.
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EIGHTEEN: The Masterpiece
beradeus31 August 2006
I'm a 55-year-old fairly jaded gay white man. Since I don't watch TV, I watch at least 250 films a year, most on DVD. I keep notes on all the films I see and rate them. Since December 2003, I have seen only five films as great as EIGHTEEN. So, I've rated EIGHTEEN better than at least 700 other recent films. Mr. Bell is far too modest in his film commentary. EIGHTEEN is a Great Film. And, it also resulted in two "firsts" for me.

I watched the film, the first time, and I was riveted throughout and weepy during the last half hour, something that's only happened to me three times before. (Five minutes into the film I knew it was going to be very good.) When Jason began reciting Whitman, I lost it, and then... The Kiss. Well, that is one of Film's great kisses, and that scene among Filmdom's most poignant and unforgettable. When Pip blows out the candle at the end and the credits rolled, I clapped. I cheered. I love happy endings. I wept.

Then I watched the trailer and the TLA previews and thought, "Okay, is this $800,000 or so Indie really that Great?" So, I immediately watched EIGHTEEN again, something that's only happened three times before. And, EIGHTEEN blew my socks off yet again, even more so. Then I watched "The Making of EIGHTEEN" documentary and was completely charmed by the cast and Mr. Bell.

So, I thought I'd watch EIGHTEEN again with the Director's Commentary. I have never before watched a film three times in one night. After the third time, at 3:00 AM, I knew I had just experienced a Great Film; EIGHTEEN now ranks #10 on my Top Twenty Films of all time. And, in the very small universe of great gay or gay-subtext film, there is Brokeback Mountain, EIGHTEEN, Mulholland Drive, and Maurice.

Thank you Mr. Bell! EIGHTEEN is brilliant and fully-realized, with a magnificent cast, a wonderfully moving, understated score, excellent cinematography, an entertaining, touching, totally appropriate and hummable song. I can go on, but I won't gush too much more.

This film should have received Oscar nominations, certainly one for Best Picture. The performances, without exception, were all wonderful. Ms. Gill's lovely, sultry voice was a surprising epiphany. And Sir Ian McKellen? 'Nuf said. Awesome.

EIGHTEEN is the reason I slog through over 200 mediocre to utterly horrendous films (some in the $150 million plus range) a year, to find that one treasure, that one exquisite, magical, unique and enchanting, perfect "Faberge egg" enfolding an unforgettable heart.

Finally (I promise), my second "first" -- I've never before posted a commentary on any film I've seen.

Thank you again, Mr. Richard Bell! Breathtaking genius. Give this man $100 million for his next film! He made $700,000 US into one of the top 50 films of all time. If I had the cash, I'd grant him $75,000 a year living expenses and match any funds raised for his next film. Mr. Bell is already a great director at 31-years old. Can you imagine him at 45-years old?

Wise and witty, tender and brutal, poised, poignant, understated yet edgy, chilling and thrilling, mesmerizing, haunting, unforgettable: EIGHTEEN, THE MASTERPIECE.
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Eighteen and so many lives
thesar-224 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Though not a complete waste of time, 'Eighteen' really wasn't all sweet as it pretended to be. Nor are the ages of the actors they're portraying – 18, my butt. McKellen could have actually shown up in the film telling us he was 30 and ask us to believe it. Even Michael J. Fox was more believable as a teen in 'Back to the Future' Parts II and III (okay, maybe not; they're probably equal believability.) If you can get past the obvious age flaw, you'll have either the complete void of acting or simply overacting (Paul Anthony's so called anguish, Clarence Sponagle's Lifetime moments, and even though I do favor Brendan Fletcher, it's best to just watch him, and more, in 'Freddy Vs. Jason,') incomprehensible scenes (a faster than Britney Spears marriage, incest to prove a point and a man who needs help to urinate, but still has one hand free – I'm guessing this was the writer's fantasy,) an entire movie of despicable characters (Anthony might be playing someone that's 18, but acts like he's 12 and some odd "john" thrown in so Anthony's character Pip can save the day – was there really a sex scene in front of a baby?) and practically every character questioning their own sexuality by strange actions/scenes. On the positive side, I did enjoy Ian McKellen's voice-over, seeing a (rarely well portrayed) straight/gay friendship, puppy love (from someone who collects stuffed puppies, that is,) good score, some decent dialogue (love the separation of gays and pedophilia – wish more people would realize that) and acting from the female leads (as well as Cumming.) I can't really recommend it as it's really trying to be too many things – gay tolerance, gay hustling, homelessness, WWII epic, priesthood, first love, flawed judges, etc, etc, etc – on a shoestring budget.
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Kirpianuscus13 May 2016
it is not great. it is not perfect. but it is only an independent film who has a lot of courage, special poetry of image and theme.but it has the rare gift to give a coherent touching, precise and useful message about grow up, commitment, friendship and family. and Paul Anthony does an admirable job. a film as an embroidery of stories, each complex, each perfect single as subject of film and smart links between stories. wise portrait of an age more than a character. and subtle science to mix shadows and lights in right manner. a film for reflection who propose fragments of stories who becomes parts of a large circle. in essence, story of metamorphose of angry in peace. as fruit of precious legacy.
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Great expectations but little returns
AkirA-056 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
On paper this movie has some chops: a street kid overcoming past trauma, rebuilding his life and succeeding when the world would have written him off. Great stuff, everyone loves a happy ending.

In the theater though, there were some omissions that left the movie dead inside. The dialog was hollow and uninteresting, the characters were almost cartoonish in their lack of dimension and complexity, and why did everyone need to be gay? I have nothing against homosexual themes or characters in a movie but when it's used in this fashion not only is is offensive to homosexuals, it trivializes the lifestyle and cheapens the movie. If the story works without this cheap trick it should have been cut.

Every character seemed to come out of the same cookie cutter form: Each had one major flaw and one minor flaw, every character is good hearted were they succeed or not, and everyone one of them had or is in an abusive relationship with someone.

The most annoying fact of the movie is that they never let you get over that the name "pip" comes from great expectations. They give it to you once and that should be enough. The story shares enough with the Dickens classic to make this fact obvious.

The most interesting part of the film is the story of the grandfather and the cassette he leaves for Pip and how Pip, the main character, learns how to grow up from the lessons learned from the tape. In the end, with lessons learned, Pip confronts his dark past and movies forward with his life.
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amazed by Eighteen
liz-581-29411213 January 2013
Here's what I wrote to the Director Richard Bell after seeing the film:

Hello Richard Bell;

I hope this is still your email address.

I just saw Eighteen..//..and I was stunned at the brilliance of the script. The direction was beautiful and the performances were so good. The scenes of the soldiers in the woods had me just aching with their misery. The morphine scene - oh my - the shaking ...//... man, and the brutality of people in the name of love. This film will have me thinking for days and days. I can't even understand how you come to know these spaces let alone bring them to life in film.

I really want to congratulate you.

I do wish you a future full of integrity. I'll be following your career now. If this film had a stint in Halifax I don't know how I missed it.

I'm sitting here just going 'wow'.

thank you thank you thank you

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A valiant effort
rzak-29 March 2007
This movie was clearly an early attempt for a new director, but still succeeded in being original and entertaining as well as in some moments thought-provoking. However, I have to say the story would not have come across as well without the stellar performance of Paul Anthony as Pip. He made the well written parts very believable and affecting, and the more weakly written parts much more bearable. Also, I have to mention the performance by Alan Cumming. It was refreshing to see him in a part like this. He brought a weight to his role that provided a very grounding element to the film. As for Paul Anthony: Who is this guy? Why haven't I seen more of him? Someone give him more roles, please!
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An extremely powerful script
rahmmie26 April 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I came across this movie by pure chance and I almost passed it up, particularly because it had war scenes and it's something I'm not into at all. However, I'm very glad that I did and I hope other people take the chance on it too. The acting by the main character is a bit over the top at times (Pip has a tendency to scream but sometimes less is more) but fortunately it is tempered by the supporting cast. The cinematography and the score set the mood perfectly and despite planting the seed of what happened at the dinner table in the opening scene, it is not until we find out what really happened in the fateful drive before the accident that the audience receives the knockout punch. I particularly liked the scene at the end when Pip visits his father. I thought they would take the easy way out and in fantasy land everybody forgives everybody else and they live happily ever after but I'm happy to say I was wrong. The way the issue of forgiveness was handled was great in my opinion, some people's actions simply are too heinous to be forgiven for them to be considered part of the human race. Overall, very good movie but I warn you, it's not an easy watch and you better have some tissues ready
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Good to see
danielw-4988424 February 2020
Not an Oscar winning movie but well done. The acting not the best. But the stories well introduce and combine to develop a plot.
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Don't' Waste Your Time
atomic_age5715 February 2007
This was an abominable piece of film-making from start to finish. With completely over-the-top plastic characters and terrible acting, this piece of drivel should not have even been made. I thought the WWII flashback scenes were completely unnecessary to the film, and were so slow and boring I had to fast-forward through them. One never feels any kind of sympathy for the lead character in the least, as his life spirals out of control we just get the feeling he seems to have made his own bed. As far as the gay theme, this approach is starting to get really, really old and it seems the characters and scenarios are getting to be more and more unrealistic. Sorry, Rich, been there...done that...over it.
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intriguing concept
SnoopyStyle20 July 2018
Street kid Pip (Paul Anthony) is estranged from his father after a fight and a deadly car wreck which killed his brother. His dad tracks him down and gives him his grandfather's audio tapes of his WWII experiences (Ian McKellen). Both Pip and his grandfather (Brendan Fletcher) from the tapes are turning eighteen. He's struggling in the streets while his grandfather was struggling in France. Pip befriends gay hustler Clark. Jenny (Carly Pope) rescues Pip from an attack by her boyfriend and does social work. Father Chris (Alan Cumming) tries to connect with the homeless teen.

The premise of twinning a runaway with his grandfather soldier is intriguing. I don't like the execution and one early WWII scene put me off. Eventually, the flashbacks become untenable. As for the present day story, that's a shocking final twist. It's a problematic twist for many reasons. I don't understand the father's motive of bringing Pip. It paints a really disturbing picture of the family. It makes it extremely unlikely that dad would go searching for Pip in the first place. The whole WWII aspect is more trouble than it's worth anyways. The main story has some great stuff but also some awkward stuff. Clark's creepy obsession with Pip is really off-putting. The audience wants to like Clark but he makes it near impossible. He's a terribly flawed character and not all his flaws are endearing. It's also weird that his scene with his John is met with a soaring romantic score. He really makes it hard to root for him. Pip's relationships with Jenny and Chris spin off some interesting stuff. It is also rather odd in having all happy endings wrapping the stories. The subject matter requires a dark tragedy somewhere. Overall, there are some really interesting stuff here among some valiant failures.
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