Review: Twelve (2010)

Directed by: Joel Schumacher | 93 minutes | drama, thriller | Actors: Chace Crawford, Jeremy Allen White, Philip Ettinger, Esti Ginzburg, Billy Magnussen, Emily Meade, Emma Roberts, Rory Culkin, 50 Cent, Ellen Barkin, Zoë Kravitz, Kiefer Sutherland, Ako, Dionne Audain, Gregg Bello, Maxx Brawer, Jermaine Crawford, Chanel Farrell, Alexander Flores, Alice Barrett, Alexandra Neil

Young people in self-implemented need, who experiment with drink, drugs and sex, are a subject that regularly produces high-profile films. Films with a message that paint an impressive portrait of a generation in search of itself. In the 1990s, Larry Clark’s ‘Kids’ became internationally renowned for shocking coverage of young people in their pursuit of everything their parents would love to remember. The raw plot and poignant complications of a film that resembled an information campaign continued to echo for a long time, especially among adults. A few years later, Doug Liman’s ‘Go’ also managed to hit a nerve, although that drama also had many comical aspects and was able to mirror a somewhat lighter fairy tale rather than an intense reality. ‘Twelve’ is, unfortunately, neither.

Twelve revolves around the young drug dealer White Mike (Chace Crawford) and his childhood friends, who don’t know what to do with their wealthy parents’ money from misery. Going crazy under the influence seems to them to be their only activity, in a series of parties characterized by the superficiality of the average visitor usually only found in high school comedies. The jocks, the cheerleaders, the losers, all the subclasses of Generation X are represented, and looking for the same thing: answers. Failing that, anything that makes you slightly ecstatic – or at least numb – is enough to escape a life that doesn’t seem to interest them – despite their lack of anything after all. Rich parents, good schools that they enter without any problems because parents or grandparents once donated a generous subsidy, a prominent neighborhood (the Upper East Side of Manhattan); it can be stolen from them. No new background for a teenage drama, which unfortunately is not given new meaning. Or it must be Kiefer Sutherland’s voice-over, who tells the audience what it can perceive itself.

Chace Crawford impresses as the drug dealer who has never touched narcotics in any form and who even stays away from the title drug Twelve (he leaves the distribution to his contact Lionel, not without merit played by 50 Cent) and knows next to him only to touch his never-pursued childhood sweetheart Molly (an innocent role by Emma Roberts). However, the cast around them, made up of Mike’s clients, absent parents and stereotypical teenagers, completely fails to arouse any kind of sympathy. You just don’t care if these volatile characters are somewhat realistic interpretations of the population group they are supposed to represent (probably yes, given the source material of the then seventeen-year-old Nick McDonell and the setting of his own childhood – which, incidentally, is interchangeable for rich neighborhoods in every major city in the US) or that these characters, without any intriguing depth, are merely an interpretation of the screenwriter. Their fate can be stolen from you, and their situation therefore leaves you indifferent. The inevitable climax of a lifestyle that destroys more than you would like, only brings euphoria to the thought that the credits won’t be long away. When it comes to teenage dramas, we are more accustomed to director Joel Schumacher. See for example ‘Flatliners’, or ‘The Lost Boys’. Films that succeed by successfully letting go of the intention to be realistic and warning.

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