Yosemite: A Review

Gabrielle Demeestere’s Yosemite is a very odd duck of a film. A film that tries to tell three distinct stories, intertwining between three 5th Grade friends, Chris, Joe and Ted, as they go about their lives in the suburbs of Palo Alto, in 1985. Meanwhile, a larger subplot, involving the threat of a mountain lion, looms in the background. Yosemite doesn’t necessarily succeed at its intentions, but there are bits and pieces of the film that I really found interesting.
The direction is good. I especially liked the night shots at the beginning of the film, the opening intro, and the way the characters are introduced in the story using 18-bit video graphics to display their names. The music score is very dreamy, and I especially liked the use of a fictional 60’s style comic book featuring a character named Night Crimson, whom one of the children, Joe, acts out amusingly with another friend of his named Henry (played by Henry Hopper).
Yosemite’s biggest problem, though, is its time shifts. When the film opened up, we were introduced to a father named Phil (played by James Franco), and his two children. It seemed like we were in modern times, however, twenty minutes later, and the film cuts to 1985 and three boys, who are completely unrelated to Phil and his children. This time shift seemed very jarring and unfocused. Also some of the characters are very strange.
The acting is pretty good. Franco is very restrained, and despite his presence and name on the cover, he is not the main character of the film. The actors who play the boys, three unknowns (played by Everett Meckler, Alec Mansky, and Calum John), do well in their respected roles. It is Henry Hopper’s character, also named Henry, the neighbor that Joe acts out the comic book character, Night Crimson, with, whom is actually in some of the better scenes of the movie.
Yosemite is another one of Franco’s 12 to 13 film or TV projects that he does a year, which often feature him in very small roles. In this case, Franco disappears after the first act, and at first I was actually left me pondering if we were in fact in his character’s childhood. Given that the names of the children are different from Phil’s, it that doesn’t appear to be the case, at all.
Overall, I didn’t find Yosemite to be a particularly eventful film, due to the time shifts and a feeling of unmemorable slowness. If you are fond of stories about childhood discovery and reflections, however, (plus two second references to The Dark Crystal and Indiana Jones) you just might enjoy it.

2 thoughts on “Yosemite: A Review

  1. OK, sounds convincing. Good review. I’ll probably skip ithe film. But I learned something … Hmm, I said, there’s an actor named Henry Hopper? Turns out he is, yes, a son of Dennis Hopper (IMDB). Dennis Hopper was one … weird … cat. Did you ever see Blue Velvet? Dennis made a lot of films, but none as powerful as his role in Blue Velvet. So maybe I’ll check out a film with Henry Hopper in it some day. People have all kinds of reasons for going to a movie. Dug the review!

    1. Thanks. Had no idea you commented on my review.

      I actually had no idea Henry was the son of Dennis Hopper (he’s never surprised his performance in Super Mario Bros, mind you, ha-ha, no). Makes some sense I guess. The film was really weird, and I couldn’t recommend it. Henry was fine, he was actually one of the major characters.

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