In a recent interview with Ben Sachs
(to be posted later today), writer-director Stephen Cone remarked, "Chicago and London have the best actors in the world." This reminds me that, while the local filmmaker has been much praised for his third feature, The Wise Kids, a good deal of the credit belongs to his exceptionally talented cast of local players.
Set in small-town South Carolina, the movie follows three high school seniors in a Christian youth group, and several adults around them, as they try to reconcile their spiritual ideals with their physical longing. Tim, who's trying to come out of the closet to his friends and family, is played by Tyler Ross, a veteran of Victory Gardens and Chicago Dramatists; Brea, whose loyalty to Tim plunges her into a sudden loss of faith, is played by Molly Kunz (Something Better Somewhere Else); and Lauren, whose steadfast belief in the literal truth of the Bible drives a wedge between her and the other two, is played by Allison Torem, who's worked with Steppenwolf, Lookingglass, and Victory Gardens. Other strong performances come from Chicago talents Matt DeCaro, Sadieh Rifai, and Sadie Rogers. Chicago may have a fine reputation as a theater town, but when an indie feature like The Wise Kids comes along, it makes you wonder why all that acting talent isn't being put to better use on the big screen.