***½/**** Image A- Sound A- Extras C+
starring Jacob Wysocki, Olivia Crocicchia, Creed Bratton, John C. Reilly
screenplay by Patrick deWitt
directed by Azazel Jacobs
by Angelo Muredda On paper, Terri looks insufferable. From its unfortunate trailer, which sells a uniform-outfitted protagonist and whimsical, quintessentially Sundance plot in which a young misfit bonds with a fortysomething man (John C. Reilly, naturally) and feels the first pangs of young love, you'd think it was assembled from the discarded organs of Wes Anderson movies past. What's most surprising about Terri, though, is its skepticism towards the calculated quirkiness of botched American indies about social rejects. When people behave strangely in this film, it isn't the result of a screenwriter groundlessly insisting on his creations' idiosyncrasy (Natalie Portman is thankfully not on hand to make a series of unique sounds when dialogue dries up), but rather a token of what Reilly, in one of many lovely moments, affectionately calls the "unknowability" of people. That curiosity about the unusual and sometimes dark impulses that decent individuals wrestle with makes director Azazel Jacobs's first feature since 2008's Momma's Man something special: a humane portrait of people who speak in fits and starts, throw inappropriate temper tantrums, and awkwardly test their sexual boundaries. Most importantly, it doesn't presume to have its young protagonists figured out. The result is an affecting twist on the coming-of-age narrative, as well as a rare film about teenagers that's in no hurry to turn the amorphousness of late adolescence into something solid and prescriptive.