KING JACK (director/writer: Felix Thompson; cinematographer: Brandon Roots; editor: Paul Penczner; music: Bryan Senti; cast: Charlie Plummer (Jack), Cory Nichols (Ben), Christian Madsen (Tom), Danny Flaherty (Shane), Erin Davie (Karen), Yainis Ynoa (Harriet), Scarlet Lizbeth (Robyn), Chloe Levine (Holly), Melvin Mogoli (Beavan), Elijah Richardson (Malcolm), Tony Divitto (Howard), Meeko Gattuso (Ray), Keith Leonard.(Officer Pete); Runtime: 81; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Rick Rosenthal, Bert Kern, Nick Morton, Daniel Bergmann, Martin Forbes, Robert Herman; Buffalo Picture House; 2015)

The debut feature of Felix Thompson is an assured coming-of-age drama.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The debut feature of Felix Thompson is an assured coming-of-age drama. The film is set over one troubling summer week-end in the dead-end suburbs of Hudson Valley. The authentic drama won the audience-award at the Tribeca Festival. First sight of our 15-year-old protagonist Jack (Charlie Plummer) is of him spraying offensive graffiti on the home of the class bully. We soon learn that Jack also has been bullied by his cruel older brother Tom (Christian Madsen) for having been their absent father’s favorite. When Jack was a baby, he rode on his father’s shoulders and was dubbed king of the land. Jack’s harried single mom Karen (Erin Davie) is a caring parent but too over-burdened to handle things. When the pudgy 12-year-old cousin Ben (Cory Nichols) must stay over for the week-end because his mom cracks up, Jack resents taking care of him while his mom takes off to nurse his aunt. During the weekend the two kids spend their time trying to fight off the sadistic bully Shane (Danny Flaherty). In one instance the bully straps Ben to a chair and shoots him with a paintball gun, at another time he severely beats Jack while he’s half-naked. The growing pains and the fears of Jack are examined through cruel acts, dubious romantic relationships and his first sexual encounter. It covers no new ground, but everything about it seems authentic.