During his brief period of stardom, Furlong exhibited true talent, specifically in the above mentioned American History X. Telling the story of a rehabilitated neo-nazi (Edward Norton) and his younger brother, eager to follow his skinhead footsteps (Furlong), the film excellently sheds light on racism and family in modern America.
The film consists of two alternating timelines: the past, showing the contributing factors to Norton's plunge into Nazism, his eventual arrest, and his rehabilitation in prison, and the present, in which Norton attempts to rid himself and his younger brother of his demons. The stylistic choice to shoot the scenes from the past in black and white evokes and emotional reaction from the audience and is a great metaphor for the racial tension throughout the film. Of course, it's also really fucking obvious.
The drastic images portrayed in the film walk a dangerous line between being offensive and unnecessarily dramatic, and being insightful representations of racism. Kaye walks the line brilliantly and employs incredible images, without seeming profound simply for the sake of being profound. Furthermore, some scenes from the film and deeply moving. Some others are just plain badass.
|"Come and bask in my badassery"|
Furlong's performance deserves equal praise. If Norton is the star of the film, Furlong is the emotional force driving the film forward. His desire for his big brother's approval has blinded him, and his growth throughout the film is truly moving.There's never a real doubt that he is a good guy, ultimately making him the easiest Nazi to like until Hans Landa.
Unfortunately, the talent ends after the two Ed's. The supporting cast is undeniably weak. Ethan Suplee as Norton's best Nazi friend is obnoxious and his unabashed racism is, in the end, annoying. And Fairuza Balk may be the worst love interest in the history of cinema. She had a good year in 1998 with this film and Waterboy (Frank Coraci, 1998) but she hasn't done much since. Apart from having a name that's fun to type, she has little going for her. But I guess she looked enough like a crack addicted Nazi to get a supporting role in one of the best films of the 90's.
|Tell me I'm pretty!|
The Edwards' performances and the stylistic choices of the film make this story of racism easy to get lost in. There are some immortal images within these two hours which almost negate the poor supporting cast. And now I know that "Put your mouth on the curb" is the scariest and most badass thing anyone can ever say to you.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a drink: every time you hear a different racial slur
Take a drink: for Elliot Gould. He deserves it
Shotgun a beer: during the curb stomp scene, just so you can pretend to be as awesome as Edward Norton