ERIC RUFFIN IN THE TRANSFIGURATIONBad boy
O'Shea's radically realistic teenage vampire movie is depressing, but in a good way: it's (half) very downbeat ending is curiously satisfying. Milo (Eric Ruffin) is a kid who thinks he's a vampire - or maybe he is one. If it's a terrible fantasy we gradually can realize why. He's black. It's summer. The kids and gang members at the Brooklyn projects where he lives haze and abuse him. His older brother Lewis (Aaron Clifton Moten), a war vet who sits watching TV all the time, is no help. When a white girl, Sophie (Chloe Levine) arrives to live with her abusive grandfather, they strike up a romantic relationship, which is a comfort, but only partially. Milo used to kill animals, and he's become a monster, and he knows it.
The closest model is said to be George Romero's 1976 Martin
, also a vampire movie that drops all the frills and magic stuff (which Milo says isn't real); not as rich as that, and damaged somewhat by forced comparison with that and Let the Right One In
and even Nosferatu
Milo bones up on from his videotape collection, but this isn't trying to be them. It sticks with you. The reasons are several. The satisfying trajectory as noted; O'Shea's lived-in use of authentic New York locations; how good the three leads all are - and they way you're never sure what's going on with Milo, actually. Ultimately to use one of his phrases, this movie is what it is. å
O'Shea had a long road to becoming a filmmaker after film school and a hard time getting this made. It debuted at Cannes in Un Certain Regard, kind of a fluke, but that has made all the difference, perhaps, though, leading to a buzz that outstrips the film's actual quality as its US theatrical release its long international festival run.The Transfiguration,
97 mins., debuted at Cannes May 2016 in Un Certain Regard, followed by 19 other international festivals including SFIFF, as part of which it was screened for this review - but it is in limited release by Landmark as of 7 Apr. 2017, coming elsewhere in subsequent weeks. The Metacritic rating of 61% shows a generally solid but reserved reception now. The Transfiguration
is now showing in NYC (Angelika Film Center) and Los Angeles (Nuart).
Some press: Interview with O'Shea in No Film School
. Michael Hoffman Consequence of Sound
. Michael Donato in We Got This Covered