The engaging coming of age film “Picture Day” marks the screen debut for writer and director Kate Melville. The movie had its premiere at the “Toronto International Film Festival” on September 7, 2012. The ninety-three minute film, which is a mixture of the genres of comedy and drama, won the Audience Choice Award at the “River Run International Film Festival,” as well as the Phillip Borsos Award at the “Whistler Film Festival” for Best New Canadian Feature Film (2012).
“Orphan Black’s” Tatiana Maslany stars as the multi-layered character Claire, who is caught in limbo between making the transition from adolescence into adulthood. Opting not to attend summer school, she is repeating her senior year of high school, due to failing math and, of all things, gym. Claire comes from a home life with an obvious lack of parental concern. Her father is completely absent from her life, and her mother, Annie (Fiona Highet) is a wreck of a woman who spends her time sitting on the couch, saddened at the apparent disinterest in her on the part of the man she has been dating. The lack of guidance at home is a major contributing factor as to why Claire is doomed to spend the year taking verbal garbage from former juniors in her school, who have also anointed her with an unflattering, nick-name.
She runs into a geeky, freshman student named Henry, (Spencer Van Wyck); the two already know each other, because Claire was his baby-sitter. She begins a friendship with Henry, and treats him as a project, reinventing his image in an attempt to find him a girlfriend. Little does she know that Henry has had a secret crush on her since he was a child, as evidenced by a shoe box full of pictures, notes, and other items, he keeps locked in his closet. It is the same closet where he secretly grows marijuana, right under the nose of his domineering, mother.
Henry is not the only man in Claire’s life. At night, she leaves any thought of school behind as she goes to clubs, where she eventually meets and hooks up with Jim, (Steven McCarthy), who is the lead singer of a band called the Elastocitizens. (As an aside the band was not just created for the film. It’s real and McCarthy is its actual front man). Booking a tour, that he hopes will bring the band to some sort of prominence, Jim asks Claire to go on tour with him. Will Claire forgo graduating from high school once again, to tour with her much older boyfriend? Does Henry confess to Claire the infatuation he feels for her? What is her reaction if she does find out that Henry loves her?
In the interest of full disclosure, the only reason I picked this DVD up at my local library and decided to give it a watch was because of Maslany. I think she is an excellent, versatile actress, as demonstrated by the multiple roles she portrays on the show “Orphan Black,” a show I thoroughly enjoy watching. The film doesn’t break any new cinematic ground. It is simplistic, but yet thanks to Maslany’s performance, and that of the other leads, who make the main characters interesting, it is something that can be watched and enjoyed. Kudos to the director for constructing a film, which does a good job of capturing the awkward days most, if not all, of us went through during our own high school experience.