Going All the Way | Chicago Reader

Going All the Way

The main character of this coming-of-age story, set in the 50s, is a repressed and unappealing young man whose fundamentalist origins are rather generically blamed for his misery and dysfunction. Jeremy Davies—often wearing baggy, dirty underwear, his pale, scrawny body unflatteringly lit—plays Sonny Burns, who tries to live vicariously through the hyperbolically charming and attractive Gunner Casselman (Ben Affleck), a popular jock from the high school where Sonny took pictures for the yearbook. Gunner's epiphanic experiences in Japan during the war have made him court Sonny, who's still something of a photographer, for his seriousness and ostensible connection to Art. Remarkable for its use of fantasy elements that are frequently revealed to be real, which diminishes the preachiness about middle-American stagnation, this near-horrific tale of suburban angst achieves the dramatic miracle of keeping you sympathetically connected to its pathetic and shallow protagonist, whose suffering could so easily have come across as disingenuous, his dreams puerile. Mark Pellington directed Dan Wakefield's screenplay based on Wakefield's novel.

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