If at first you don’t succeed, try again in Emmanuelle Bercot’s Standing Tall, a drama about Malony (Rod Paradot), a delinquent youth trying to get on the straight and narrow. Standing Tall begins when Malony is six-years-old, brought to the social worker (Catherine Deneuve) by his young mother, who calls him a monster before storming out of the office. The movie picks up ten years later when Malony is stealing cars and regularly getting busted, returning to the social worker and going off to a juvenile detention center. Rod Paradot shines as the troubled youth, naturalistically evoking his inner pain and confusion. The supporting cast, too, is effective, especially Benoît Magimel, who plays a social worker whose own troubled past helps him identify with Malony’s plight. For the most part the movie doesn’t sentimentalize the situation, though the tonal shift in the end suggests otherwise. Besides a club mix of Die Antwoord’s “I Fink U Freaky” and what sounds like something produced by cristal baschet by Cliff Martinez, Standing Tall is not really scored, although it relies frequently on Franz Schubert’s Trio NO°2 in E-Flat, which will be familiar to Barry Lyndon fans.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White