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  • 12A
  • Comedy, Drama
  • 2010

It's Kind Of A Funny Story

It's Kind Of A Funny Story

Synopsis

Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck's third feature is a vibrant, life-asserting dramedy set in a New York psychiatric ward.

About

They did it to the 'inspirational teacher' subgenre in their first feature Half Nelson (2006), and to the 'true underdog' sports film in their follow-up Sugar (2008) - and now, once again, writer/director team Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck turn a recognisable genre on its head with It's Kind Of A Funny Story, finding human insight and social realism in the most conventional of materials.

Based on Ned Vizzini's semi-autobiographical novel from 2006, the film is set in a hospital's adult psychiatric floor, but avoids the claustrophobic brand of gothic associated with films like One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (1975) or Shutter Island (2010) by focusing somewhat breezily on a 16-year-old's coming of age in an adult world. This is a study of mental illness with an unexpectedly romantic twinkle in its eye and a feel-good kick in its adolescent step - but don't be too taken in by all the manic montages, the vibrant flights of fancy and ADHD stylings.

Stressed, depressed teen Craig (Keir Gilchrist) may be only a five-day tourist on the psych ward, but his rapid road to love (with Emma Roberts' Noelle), greater self-awareness and a more positive outlook on the future will bring him into contact with other, older patients - like the cripplingly agoraphobic Muqtada or the suicidal Bobby (Zach Galifianakis in a career-best performance) - for whom the hospital exit is either a revolving door, or a step too far.

Boden and Fleck expertly negotiate the fine line between sunny optimism and deepest despair, as Craig's emergence into a renewed love for life is offset by the rather different kind of departure that is delicately hinted for another main character.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Zach Galifianakis, Viola Davis, Jeremy Davies, Emma Roberts
  • Director: Ryan Fleck, Anna Boden
  • Writer: Ryan Fleck, Anna Boden
  • Photographer: Andrij Parekh
  • Composer: Broken Social Scene

In a nutshell

It's funny alright, but only kind of, as Boden and Fleck bring a refreshing dose of coming-of-age themes to the asylum genre.

by Anton Bitel

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