Review: Lakewood (#TIFF21)

LAKEWOOD (#TIFF21)

Naomi Watts passionately leads a film with a simple, yet emotionally turbulent premise that delivers intense twists and turns that mirror all-too-familiar events in reality.

While out on a run in the middle of the woods with only her phone, a mother (Watts) learns that her son’s school is on lockdown due to a possible school shooting. Lakewood is a tense thriller that is carried on the shoulders of Watts as she pieces together whatever information she can gather using phone contacts, social media, and news stories. While not the most complex of stories, the film is incredibly effective in tapping into viewers’ collective emotional triggers from countless similar incidents throughout the United States over the years. Director Phillip Noyce knows just when to introduce the next challenge to Watts’ character, never allowing for a moment of respite for neither her nor the audience in a tight 84-minute outing. The isolated setting of the events of the film, deep in the wilderness where cell service is scarce and the woods go on quietly for miles, only adds to the feel.

Lakewood also tackles, indirectly, grieving and parenting with ease, but a lack of depth. The main focus here is the incident at the school that sends the story into motion and makes for a wild thriller that will keep viewers on the edge of their seats. It leaves you feeling for Watts’ character, the kids put through unthinkable trauma, and all effected both in this fictional film and beyond. Lakewood simply brings viewers into the events and has us live them along with a distressed mother. It’s powerful and impactful.

Rating: 4/5

Photo from TIFF

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