Boys' own message
Directed by Robert Mandel
Story by Dick Wolf
Featuring Brendan Fraser, Chris O'Donnell and Amy Locane
Reviewed by Gabrielle Carey
In the tradition of Dead Poets Society, School Ties is another boys-coming-of-age drama set in the privileged and sheltered surroundings of a New England prep school in the '50s. What distinguishes School Ties is its tackling of anti-Semitism.
David Greene is in his final year of high school and happens to be a star quarterback, an all-round nice guy and Jewish. When he is recruited to St Matthews Academy in Massachusetts from small-town Pennsylvania, on a football scholarship and ticket to Harvard, he is advised to keep his religion to himself, which he does. School Ties opens with a shocking display of anti-Semitism and cleverly, subtly weaves the more insidious, and more chilling, instances of bigotry into the story.
This is not a dazzling film by any means. The acting and directing are competent, and the cast sports actors from various teen flicks, most notably Brendan Fraser (Encino Man) in the lead and Amy Locane (Cry Baby) as his WASP love interest.
The film is persuasively constructed and straightforwardly correct. Its arguments are lucid, and the scenes in which Greene is confronted by his peers' knowledge of his religion are well done.
Everybody likes Greene; he has everything going for him. But when his faith is revealed, everyone is outraged, as if he had been hiding the fact that he was an axe murderer, when in reality nothing about him has changed. It's a pity yet another boys' own adventure story is the vehicle for the exploration of this worthy theme.