Connect with us
A.J. Edwards' Friday's Child


Friday’s Child | 2018 SXSW Film Festival Review

Friday’s Child | 2018 SXSW Film Festival Review

Edward’s Coming of Age Thriller on the Fringe is a Big Mood

Some films aren’t meant to be enjoyed, some instead exist to agitate and destabilize. Director A.J. Edwards has no interest in placating his audience. His sophomore feature Friday’s Child is an unpredictable thriller about ‘aging out’ of the foster care system and into life on the fringes. Edwards builds a chilly atmosphere through sweeping cinematography, haunting music, and riveting performances that help overcome a mediocre script. Tye Sheridan anchors the story with his striking portrayal of a quietly strong 18 year-old transitioning to a life of his own. Imogen Poots, Caleb Landry Jones, Jeffrey Wright (Bernard from HBO’s Westworld) and Brett Butler round out the exemplary cast, elevating familiar scenes with their weighty presence.

It’s a scary world out there for Richie (Sheridan), but being forced out of the nest–“emancipated” as one character says—on your 18th birthday can be a proud milestone if you can land on your feet. Richie’s just trying to land on his feet, so when he rents himself an apartment the size of a cubicle and lands a couple of odd jobs (in construction, and later hospitality), we feel a dash of hope. Soon enough a murder brings chaos into his world. Characters loosely pass in and out of his life, but he shares the deepest connection with Joan (Poots). Sheridan and Poots have terrific, brooding chemistry. A plot contrivance in the third act is a blemish on an otherwise meaningful romance.

Edwards mentor Terrence Malick, who produced his first film, The Better Angels, and for whom Edwards has edited, is clearly a heavy influence. There are also flashes of Dostoevsky, Steinbeck and Andrea Arnold. The film is shot mostly in 4:3 aspect ratio, which is making a come back recently on the festival circuit with the likes of Don’t Leave Home and First Reformed. Towards the film’s conclusion the aspect ratio shifts to 16:9, though the motivation remains unclear. The moments of spontaneity throughout are reflective of the characters’ daily triumphs and tribulations, and so it’s easy to forgive some mindless plotting. The randomness of everyday life as a broke young adult is more authentic than the forced plot twists Edwards’ felt inclined to pursue towards the end of the film.

Mood wins out over everything else in Friday’s Child. It’s more bone-chilling than a sad outlaw song. It’s not as dark or wild as Requiem for a Dream, but it shares an eerie vibe with that types of movie that can linger under your skin for days, sometimes weeks. Caleb Landry Jones is particularly troubling from the moment he glides into the story but Sheridan is the star who is as comfortable in mainstream (recently served up in Spielberg’s Ready Player One) as he is in micro indie. Edwards, Sheridan and Poots have found a way to make despair sexy without being exploitative, and for the most part, it works.

Reviewed on March 11th at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival – Visions. 93 Mins.


New York City based, Matt Delman contributes coverage for and Hammer To Nail for Sundance, SXSW, Tribeca, TIFF and many of the New York festivals and film series. He also runs social media ad campaigns for indie films under his 3rd Impression banner. His top 3 theatrical releases of 2018: Cold War, Eighth Grade, & Bisbee ‘17.

Click to comment

More in Reviews

To Top