Director Nick Frangione’s indie drama Buck Run [2019] follows 15-year-old Shaw (Nolan Lyons) as he copes with the death of his mother and goes to live with his estranged father (James Le Gros) in their rural Pennsylvania town. The teenager struggles emotionally with transitioning to a new household, harassment from his peers at school, and his lack of a father figurine to be there in his time of need.

Small Town Blues: Buck Run has been described by Frangione as a project very personal to him, loosely based on his own experiences growing up in his hometown. Although the film is very atmospheric and captures the internal isolation that Shaw feels after his ailing mother passes away, there is very little in terms of story or character development. All that is essentially established is that Shaw is a troubled youth with a strained relationship with his father, William. He remains that way for the duration of the film, without a major breakthrough or personal epiphany. His inner demons are never fully explored or resolved, as the events in the film do not care to further explore his bottled-up anguish. While Nolan Lyons portrays Shaw to the best of his ability, there is very little to work with when the character is limited to long, silent stares and timid brooding in rustic solitude. There is hardly any development with Shaw’s father as well, as he is reduced to drunkenly mumbling passive aggressive comments and going out to hunt deer. It is extremely difficult to be engaged with the fate of these characters when the film gives the audience nothing to work with in the first place.

Big Game: The imagery in Buck Run is very barren and cold, meant to mirror the turmoil plaguing Shaw as his life changes drastically. Another use of symbolism comes with the recurring images of deer, whether it be in the foreground of the forest or found in old home video footage. It is without clear reason what these artistic nuances are meant to represent, as any character depth fails to create any lasting pertinence or theme. Buck Run is more or less an hour-and-a-half-long snapshot in time—not really moving forward or contributing to a progressive storyline, only pointing a camera at stagnant characters.

Buck Run tries to present itself as a coming-of-age film, but the two-dimensional characters remain as they are from beginning to end—staying as still as deer in the headlights.

Related: Want to find out more about Buck Run?

Read our interview with Buck Run Director Nick Frangione

Buck Run
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