Struck By Lightning may well seem like just another edition to the American high-school movie canon, but it’s actually got more brains than most. It’s wittily and intelligently written by its star, Chris Colfer and contains some excellent performances, not just from Colfer, but also from rising star Rebel Wilson as his misfit friend and Alison Janney as his pill-addicted mother.
With this film, Colfer, who most will recognise as Kurt from Glee, proves what a dynamic and intensely watchable actor he can be. He is likable, though difficult, attractive, though emotionally conflicted. It’s a performance that is well pitched and beautifully crafted.
His character is a precocious young writer desperate to become a published journalist. He starts up a school literary magazine but is faced with the issue of getting other kids to write for it. So he decides the way forward is blackmail. Every student has a secret, so he and his friend (Wilson) do their best to discover and exploit them.
One could take issue with our lead’s tactics (blackmailing closeted gay teenagers? Really?), and it is true there is a sense of moral ambiguity about his actions. However, the viewer is not mean to support him in everything he does, but rather observe (though occasionally sympathise with) his enthusiasm for doing something that matters.
The plot feels a little too meandering at times, and there are patchy moments where it gets a bit repetitive, but as a teen high-school comedy drama, Struck By Lightning works pretty well. And the conclusion to the film (which is signposted from the start) comes across as very affecting.
Struck By Lightning (2013), directed by Brian Dannelly, will be released in UK cinemas later this year. Watch the trailer below.