After reviewing two films from Sterling Productions, the independent Canadian production house was kind enough to provide review copies of some of the titles from their catalogue. Today’s pick is a film called Clear Cut in which the twelve-year-old Evan Phillips plays the role of Kenny – a kid living in rural Canada who faces some tough choices.
Kenny’s parents encourage him to join the nature scouts, hoping he will make more friends. Reluctant at first, the boy soon becomes involved with the scout activities and becomes passionate about the importance of preserving the wilderness. During one of the field trips in the protected forest area nearby, the scout leader explains that while cutting down the trees in it is forbidden by law, the painted X symbol on some of them indicate they have fallen victim to some sickness and need to be removed in order to avoid contamination in the area. The next evening, one of the scouts comes to Kenny’s house and, after showing him a spray can with red paint, asks him if he would like to have some fun by spraying red signs on some trees in the forest. Sensing the wrongfulness of this idea, Kenny refuses to join his friend and tries to convince him not to do it.
The next day – it’s all over the news. Half of the trees in the protected zone have been cut down. After an investigation, the authorities reach the conclusion that the accident is the result of an act of vandalism and encourages people who may have more information on the case to contact the police. Kenny has to make a tough choice. Will he tell on his friend or choose to remain silent?
Clear Cut is not a complicated film. The story is straight forward and easy to follow. Though there are no real dramatic events, for the most part the film is still enjoyable. I was pleasantly surprised by the performance of Evan Phillips – whose skills in front of the camera have developed quite well since he starred in an earlier film released by Sterling Productions – Swim Zack Swim. Additionally, the choice of soundtrack was quite successful as the accompanying music was one of the first things that made an impression on me. Keeping in mind that Clear Cut is a low budget film, I am willing to forgive some of the sound problems (in some of the scenes it was rather hard to get what the characters were saying, especially the scenes shot at the school) – even though most of it could have been fixed in the editing stage. “The making of” included on the DVD is as fun to watch as the movie itself as the youthful energy, dedication and enthusiasm of Evan (and the rest of the cast) is evident.
You can find the film at the official web site of Sterling Productions