Netflix Gems is a new segment at SQ where our writers divulge the hidden treats we have found this month that Netflix has to offer. We’ll also tell you which countries they are available in to stream.
Available in: USA
Written and directed by an incredible new talent, Kat Candler, Hellion is an intense and poignant story of a blue-collar family from Texas dealing with loss. Aaron Paul delivers yet another fine performance as Hollis, a father struggling to take care of his rebellious 13-year-old son Jacob and his younger brother Wes after the death of his wife. He leaves the boys to fend for themselves and ultimately get into trouble. Hollis is constantly off drowning his sorrows at the local bar and re-building the home they were all meant to move into. As his neglect grows, social services becomes involved. Wes is brought to Hollis’ sister, played by the lovely Juliette Lewis, invoking subtextual tensions between suburbia and the working class. Candler demonstrates strong directorial vision by subjectively expressing the family’s turmoil and chaotic fury via shaky hand-held camera shots. Hellion is an intense and engaging portrait of a dysfunctional family, Candler truly draws the audience into this family’s chaotic world. She crafts both a raw and tender coming-of-age story that is not to be missed. –Caroline Madden
Available in: Great Britain, Ireland
‘X+Y’ (or, ‘A Brilliant Young Mind’) ticked so many boxes for me. Grief and difficult family relationships? Check. Acute interest in academia? Check. Low key and British? Check. Released in 2014, ‘X+Y’ is a coming of age film that follows Nathan (Asa Butterfield), a young boy dealing with the death of his father, and the way his autistic spectrum condition (ASC) leads him to struggle in social and emotional situations. Nathan, who possesses an incredible talent for mathematics, enters the International Mathematical Olympiad under the guidance of his multiple sclerosis suffering teacher Martin (Rafe Spall) and the nervous support of his mother Julie (Sally Hawkins). His journey pushes him to places, both literally and in a figurative, emotional sense, that he’s never been to before, and the film captures Nathan’s efforts to assert himself and make sense of the world around him.
As somebody who does not have an ASC or a physical disability like MS, I can’t directly comment on how good a portrayal ‘X+Y’ is; it has, however, been praised for it’s efforts to depict both conditions in a way that is not romanticised or idealised, but complicated, and uncompromising. The relationship between Nathan and his mother is particularly strong – it’s an inherently difficult one. Julie herself doesn’t share any of Nathan’s talent for mathematics and unlike her late husband, cannot easily calm Nathan’s worries or seem to satisfy him as a mother. It’s a hugely sad, honest depiction and because of this, the (perhaps a little trite) emotional conclusion to their relationship feels earned, and overwhelmingly moving. The greatest strength of this film is the performances – Sally Hawkins is a treasure (if you haven’t seen ‘Happy-Go-Lucky’, do – it’s also on Netflix) who plays every moment perfectly. Rafe Spall is another of Britain’s best actors to recently hit the mainstream, finding here a way to play supportive, coarse, angry, desperate, and tender in a unified and sympathetic way.
I would recommend ‘X+Y’ to anyone with an interest in tear jerking dramas, coming of age narratives, sweet teenage romances and British, smaller budget cinema! –Ashley Woodvine
Available in: Pretty much everywhere except from the USA
Colegas or ‘Buddies‘ is a Brazilian road trip movie thats fun, heartwarming and an absolute hidden gem that just so happens to have 3 leads that have Down Syndrome. Stalone, Aninha and Marcio are at a boarding school for Down Syndrome children. Stalone (named after Sylvester) is obsessed with movies and thinks that his life in school is far too boring; he wants to escape and act out his film fantasies. Unsatisfied with his life there he decides to steal a car, like in Thelma and Louise and takes off with Aninha and Marcio who decide they each have a wish to fulfil by the end of the trip. Realising they have set off without any food or clothes or any money to get some, they hold up a number of stores in the only way they now how; by acting out famous scenes from films. The trio embody the slick coolness of an action hero or crime film and the shop owners see them as a genuine threat, notifying the police of three masked vigilantes who are a danger to society. In reality they wouldn’t hurt a fly, but the chase is on, 2 police officers are then hot on the tails of the runaways trying to get them before they reach the sea (one of the children’s wishes). Colegas is completely heart-warming and side-splittingly hilarious, it’s representation of people with Down Syndrome is fantastic, their condition is never mentioned in the film, they are allowed to seek out their own experiences, have romances, fun times and be upset, with none of it relating to Down Syndrome. Despite how much of its content is taken from classic films, Colegas stands alone and proud, a formulaic road movie with an unlikely trio of pals. –Chloe Leeson
Categories: Anything and Everything