Directed by Kyung Sok Kim and written by Rex Reyes, when a water contamination issue forces a trailer park to be closed, 8-year-old Jessie must come to terms with leaving everything and everyone she has ever known behind. Starring: Amanda Christine, Tucker Chandler, Cael Peter Cross, Arabella Frost and Margo Ferree.
Set in the 90s, around the time of the MTBE water contamination in California and based on the personal experiences of writer Reyes’s childhood, Furthest From explores a child’s perspective in times of struggle. Having to move away from your friends as an 8-year-old feels like your whole world is being thrown upside down, leaving everything you know and no matter how valid the reason is for having to move, it can’t change that experience. One of the more clever aspects that the film captures is Jessie’s (Christine) awareness of the situation and that she’s even actively in denial. The writing touches upon the more complex nature of her character, she may be 8 but she’s smart, sensitive and creative. It also manages to get across the larger story, of water contamination, turning the wheels of this family’s life without interrupting the focus or atmosphere, it adds a sadness but keeps its youthful energy.
An energy that’s superbly brought through at the same time by its direction and cinematography (by Teck Siang Lim). The use of colour brings a wave of nostalgia, to throw you back to your own childhood best friends. It impressively keeps the film firmly viewed from Jessie’s perspective, it doesn’t fall into the darker, grittier side of the story, it stays in the realm of playful and adventurous while balancing the sadness. The angles and movements that the direction uses also cleverly portray a child’s perspective, bringing the whole viewing experience together succinctly. It’s only pushed further by its use of music, the score has a positivity and sense of adventure to it, it particularly enhances the emotion of the nostalgic opening scene.
Having your two leads be 8-year-old children is a sincere risk to take but not if you find the right talent and they certainly have here. Amanda Christine leads this film flawlessly, she’s effortless to watch, she brings a well-rounded character and captures the tone of the experience perfectly. You may recognise her from Amazon Prime’s recent Blumhouse release Black Box or Uzo Aduba vehicle Miss Virginia, she’s clearly a talented young actress with a lot of potential. Alongside Tucker Chandler’s Lucas, they build a very convincing, sweet friendship that’s also touching when they’re forced to face facts about their families moving away from one another. Both of them manage to hit the emotional notes in a sincere fashion which again is impressive, even more so because they arguably bring a stronger authenticity to this story than its actors portraying older characters.
Furthest From is a thoughtfully told story through the eyes of a young girl. The direction, writing, cinematography and score all work together hand in hand to create a strong, youthful atmosphere. Its leads give impressive performances that bring through surprisingly layered emotions for such young actors. It’s sweet yet sad but holds onto the positivity, showing that sometimes we have no choice but to accept things and move on.