Breakfast with Curtis

Breakfast with Curtis (2012)
★★ / ★★★★

A movie like this comes around once in a while and it almost begs for the viewer to ask why it was even made it the first place. It has a plot but no story, it is neither too funny nor too dramatic—just a state of in-between where reality and fiction are shoulder to shoulder.

Written and directed by Laura Colella, “Breakfast with Curtis” is about neighbors who try to find a connection again after a sudden rift five years prior. In the middle of it all is a fourteen-year-old named Curtis (Jonah Parker) who is very bright but socially awkward. One day, Curtis is invited by Syd (Theo Green), leading a bohemian lifestyle along with his flatmates, to become a part of a video project for a book business. Not having many friends, Curtis accepts the responsibilities of the task—a first step in the healing between Curtis’ and Syd’s households.

While I admired what the writer-director tries to accomplish, many of its ideas are not fully fleshed out. We are presented skeletal versions of its characters, especially those who live with Syd, but very rarely do we get to know them as real people who have lived or trying to live to the fullest. We see that they like to drink, hang out at the porch, play ping-pong, laugh, but who are they, what are their dreams, their aspirations?

Curtis is not an accessible protagonist. Although I liked how Green portrayed his character—very shy, often looking down, barely getting the chance to see what’s around him despite his big spectacles—but the screenplay does not do much to give him an unexpected arc. It is predictable how he grows into a slightly more confident person throughout the course of the picture. This could have been overlooked if the script had provided more, fresh details about him. For instance, what interests him academically, his hobbies, what he likes in girls, what kind of books he reads.

The picture is at its best when it simply shows the neighbors hanging out and having a good time. It reminded me of my childhood in the Philippines where people just hang around in front of their homes to soak up the heat, to share gossip and stories, to play card games and mahjong. The film captures that sense of community, that even if the characters’ relationships are imperfect, it is okay because their commonalities serve as glue.

“Breakfast with Curtis” gets a mild recommendation because it hits the mark perfectly on some occasions. It embodies a certain lackadaisical tone that is reminiscent of our childhoods when things were simpler. It is never boring, but it could use an extra spice once in while in order to elevate good material into something more memorable instead of simply decaying into a passing thought.

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