October 31, 2022

VIFF 2022 | Renting 'I Like Movies' – Video Store Nostalgia

"I hate movies!"
Andy McQueen Alex Ateah Romina D'Ugo Isaiah Lehtinen Chandler Levack | I Like Movies | VIFF 2022
Vancouver International Film Festival
VIFF 2022—Set in 2003 during the peak of home video culture, first-time feature filmmaker Chandler Levack very much captures what it's like to grow up as a lonely teenage cinephile in an Ontario suburb far away from greater film culture. I Like Movies feels almost way too real in its detailed depiction of a cinematic obsession with filmmaking when you have very little life experience yourself.

Starring Isaiah Lehtinen as condescending high school senior Lawrence, loosely based on Levack's own experiences growing up in Burlington (outside of Toronto), most of the events take place in a Blockbuster corporate-type home video rental chain store ("Sequels Video") where he works trying to save up to go to film school in New York. Lawrence is obnoxiously passionate about movies and uses his entitled artistic idealism as an escape from his emotional problems and troubled personal life.

It's refreshing to see such a pleasing indie comedy where character relationships unfold in ways that feature sensible but still very broadly entertaining arcs for its characters. Romina D'Ugo and Percy Hynes White play Lawrence's boss and best friend whom he both worships yet pushes away.

Isaiah Lehtinen Percy Hynes White Chandler Levack | I Like Movies | VIFF 2022
Visit Films / Mongrel Media
There's a whole cast who give comically dramatic performances—Krista Bridges as his caring but fed-up mom is another standout—where you get the sense they have their own films going on in the background while also feeding into Lawrence's arc of slow adolescent self-realization.

Levack makes I Love Movies so raucously funny but emotionally resonant by tapping into the specificities of her setting and personal experiences. By taking place in 2000s suburban Toronto, the coming-of-age film feels so rich in universal youthful feelings of grief, obsession, enthusiasm, and loneliness. It's an amusingly nostalgic millennial trip acknowledging the many flaws of obsessive teenage boys with sexist geek tendencies who often live in their own delusion to protect themselves from vulnerability.

I Like Movies screened at the 2022 Vancouver International Film Festival as part of the Northern Lights series at the VIFF Centre and Rio Theatre.


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