Stella’s Last Weekend (San Diego International Film Festival)

Title: Stella’s Last Weekend
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Director: Polly Draper
Cast: Nat Wolff, Alex Wolff, Polly Draper
Runtime: 1 hr 41 mins
What It Is: Two brothers find they are in love with the same woman, months apart from meeting her. Torn between the true love they have for each other, and the love they feel for Violet, Jack and Oliver must decide which love wins.

What We Think: I hated the first 15 minutes of this film, with a passion. Oliver (Alex Wolff) seems written as possibly the most annoying child that ever existed and his dialogue grates on anyone beyond their teens. Polly Draper as their complicit mother Sally wobbles between cringe-worthy and head shaking, a sentiment shared with her newest love interest Ron (Nick Sandow). Yet as I shuffled in my seat pondering my exit, I watched as Violet (Paulina Singer) entered the story, and suddenly the dynamics of the film changed. Nat Wolff as lovesick Jack evoked memories of a boom box carrying John Cusack, his forlorn eyes firmly portraying his every emotion. Violet (Paulina Singer) in turn wears every question she holds as she sits divided between the brother she wanted and the brother she has. It’s impossible to not get caught up in the young love triangle, both men equally endearing as they share their history, and create their own stories together. At the center of everything lies Stella, the last remaining piece Oliver has of his father, who’s impending death looms over the film. The families heartbreak over their dog reminds us that the story is as real as your neighbors, though possibly more interesting.

Our Grade: A-, The film began as annoying as a little brother could be, and evolved into just how enduring our siblings tend to end up. Nat Wolff will carry the film as its main heartthrob, straight onto the screens for thousands of teens, and it will be deserving. But the film does more than tell an interesting romance, it demonstrates the strength of familial love. During the Q&A Director/ writer Polly Draper emphasized that she wanted to tell a story of two brothers growing up, and she accomplished it in spades. For as much as Oliver began unlikable, you can’t help but want to scoop him up into a hug by the end.

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