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January 26, 2011
Review - " Twelve "  -  (on DVD) By Roland Hansen
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Directed by: Joel Schumacher
Starring: Chase Crawford, Rory Culkin, Philip Ettinger, Emma
Roberts, 50 Cent, Zoe Kravitz, Billy Magnussen, Emily Meade, Ellen
Barkin, Jeremy Allen White

Based on the book of the same name written by the 17-year old (at
the time) Nick McDonell, Twelve offers a fast paced journey through
a week in the life of a young drug dealer. “White Mike” has never
done any drug or used alcohol to distract him from the reality of his
situation.  His mother is dead from cancer, he has fantastic childhood
friends who have been there every step of the way, his family is well-
respected in the community…and he’s dropped out of school to
become a successful drug dealer to spoiled rich kids in the Upper
East Side.  Kiefer Sutherland narrates this seedy tale of when the
privileged life meets the underbelly of society and how mutually
damaging it can be.

White Mike is played by Chace Crawford, who has some experience
playing one of the aforementioned spoiled rich kids as Nate
Archibald on Gossip Girl.  He surprised me with his acting chops in
this role – I was impressed and found myself wanting to see more of
what he’s capable of.  Mike, as previously mentioned, spends his
days dealing weed to the excessively wealthy Manhattan teens until
his supplier Lionel (rapper 50 Cent/Curtis Jackson) begins selling a
designer drug called “twelve”, an upper similar to ecstasy and coke
that hooks users extremely fast.  It hooks Mike’s cousin Charlie
(Jeremy Allen White) and when he seeks out Lionel for more, he
ends up dead.  As Mike’s best friend Hunter (Philip Ettinger) is
accused of the crime, he watches the life he has so carefully
constructed slowly spin out of the control. The only
bright spot in Mike's life is Molly (Emma Roberts), the
studious, lower middle-class, good girl who’s been in
love with him since they were childhood friends to
whom he lies about his livelihood. She is supposed
to be the movie’s symbol of purity and decency. You
have to applaude Roberts move from cutsie tween
characters to more dramatic adult roles. She still
plays a goodie-goodie but even in her good-girl
persona there was a bit of rebellion. She arrives at
a party and asks the host "Is this the kid of party
where a 16 year old girl can get drunk?". Julia
Roberts’s 19-year-old niece shows off her sultry side,
Emma stripped down in front of the cameras for this
indie movie, and shows off her bra clad body.

This film reminded me of films like Crash, Snatch,
and He’s Just Not That into You where several
told by the narrator that Chris is easily manipulated
into having large parties, strung along by the
delusional hope of hooking up with one of the more
beautiful people.  Of course, his home life can’t be
perfect.  The son of well-meaning, if not slightly
absent parents and sibling to psychotic brother
Claude (played brilliantly by Billy Magnusson), he’s
caught in between worlds.  Chris is clearly the
peacemaker in the family, attempting to fix everyone’
s problems without the slightest idea how.  Watching
his face crumble while witnessing his brother’s
destruction is downright heartbreaking.

Featuring heavy similarities to drug-fueled films like
Chumscrubber and Requiem For A Dream, Twelve
builds upon itself until slowly until it explodes in a
fiery dope-filled finale that leaves little revelation
and more questions. Regardless, it’s hard not to
separate stories intertwine and eventually collide
near the end.  For being filled with fairly no-name
actors and one very famous rapper, this film was
intriguing, dark and seemed fairly representative of
a drug filled lifestyle.  Sutherland’s voice is smooth
and almost mocking as he narrates the lives of
kids.  At first, you almost feel as though there is too
much narration, but a little over halfway through the
movie, it drops off almost completely and I found
myself missing it a little.

Rory Culkin fell into show business playing the
younger versions of his brothers’ characters.  
However, I think he may have finally made it as a
great individual actor.  The youngest of the Culkin
clan at 21, he stole the show for me as Chris, a
slightly uncool teenager with a huge house.  We are
feel for the film’s protagonist and watching him
struggle with his emotions as well as his profession
makes this film worth a look.

Narrator: "You will not be remembered if you die
now. You'll be buried and mourned by a few and
what more can you ask for? The world will spiral
from underneath you and you are either too smart
or too dumb to find God. Maybe you are angry. Only
because the way out is through love. And you are
just horny and lonely. "