Director: Daniel Grou-Podz
Starring: Claude Legualt, Robert Naylor
Duration: 108 min.
The story of Tommy, a troubled 10-and-a-half year-0ld boy with a violent nature who is well known to social services. Considered a danger to society and written off by everyone in his life, only Gilles, his guardian at the juvenile center, sees the slight potential for his redemption.
10 1/2 is a film by French Canadian director Daniel Grou aka Podz, and was nominated for several categories at the 2011 Genie Awards including Best Motion Picture. It is the story of a troubled young boy (played remarkably by 12-year-old actor Robert Naylor) whose only apparent means of communication with the world is through violent outbursts.
A powerful, dark, and realistic social drama, 10 1/2 opens in a shocking manner. The first three images shown are of young Tommy alone and masturbating to a pornographic movie on TV, followed by him forcing a younger boy into re-enacting one of those scenes, and then him being chased down and brutally beaten to a pulp by that boy's older brother. The real story begins following his release from hospital as he is taken to a juvenile detention center. Will Tommy grow up to be a deviant sociopath, or can he be saved?
The film is very minimalistic, shot in a realistic hand-held documentary style, with simple editing, and is completely devoid of music, even the ending credits run in silence. It takes place almost entirely in the detention center, a place that houses about a dozen youngsters each with their own troubled past, and staffed with well meaning but highly stressed out social workers.
The reason to watch this film is the acting of Robert Naylor, who impressively goes from calm and unassuming to full out raging tantrum, unleashing his fury on everything around him, the chairs and furniture, the guards and employees of the institution, and himself. All the while yelling and screaming a continuous slew of insults and profanity (if nothing else, you will at least learn a few new Québécois swear-words after watching this). Also worth mentioning is Martin Dubreuil's performance in a small supporting role as Tommy's deadbeat father, who pulls off perhaps the most touching scene in the film.