Hot Take: Yosemite struggles to fill 82 minutes. Despite heaping helpings of dramatic build-up, nothing ever really happens. When it does, it’s not very interesting.
Yosemite is one of the darkest films I’ve seen in some time. However, part of me wonders if it’s me that is dark and the movie is really about something else. Because of the deliberate, patient pace combined with the just below the surface darkness, the viewing is unnerving and allows for a lot of thought. That’s not to say the film is thought provoking. There’s too much left open to interpretation to credit it with being thought provoking. You have no choice but to think. Yosemite leaves you no other option.
The movie revolves around three 5th grade boys whose lives are somewhat intertwined. The setting is Palo Alto in the ’80s as the town has growing concerns about a mountain lion on the loose. Throughout the intertwined tales, there’s darkness and dread inferred but it might be in our heads as the warning signs and the drama never actually boils over into anything of substance.
Some will love the film as it is definitely something to talk about. However, leaving out large chunks of a story and leaving it up to the audience to figure it out isn’t really great filmmaking or good storytelling. It’s manipulative… or lazy… or both.
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- The Dramatic Tone
The tone of the film primes you for a big dramatic twist. Director Gabrielle Demeestere manages to get you to the edge of your seat. I’ll let you be the judge if the payoff is there.
- Solid Performances From Young Actors
The three young actors in the movie deliver strong performances.
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- The Lack of Payoff
For me, it’s not there. There’s too much unexplained. Yosemite does a good enough job to get me to care about the characters but never gives enough back to satisfy my interest.
- The Odd Sexual Overtones
There’s a dark, sexual tone to the film that is very uncomfortable. From unusual father-son “how babies are made” discussions to fights involving crotch-grabbing to a textbook pedophile predator, there’s just something off about the way it’s done.