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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Teens > I Am The Cheese

I Am The Cheese


Picture: C     Sound: C+     Extras: C-     Film: B-



After Steven Spielberg’s original release of E.T., all the actors scrambled to find roles that would continue their careers.  Even Drew Barrymore could not break being overshadowed by the title character, so no one went on to an enduring career at the time.  Robert MacNaughton made one of the most interesting moves in a feature film adaptation of Robert Cormier’s book I Am The Cheese in 1983.  The story involves a young man named Adam (MacNaughton) who has to deal with amnesia and not knowing all about his past.


Instead of the story being about him being molested, as most such stories turn out to be these days, we get Robert Wagner as a psychiatrist who is trying to help Adam remember what has really occurred.  When we join him, he decides not to take his medication, though we are not told what that is or why he really has to take it.  The rest of the film offers several possibilities of what may or may not be the truth about his past and present, which will remind some of David Cronenberg’s Spider (reviewed elsewhere on this site) to some extent.  Unfortunately, the lack of psychology and the 90-miinutes-long running time prevent Robert Jiras’ directing to fully explore what has happened.


The result, due also in part to the screenplay adaptation by David Lange and Jiras is some things are not resolved by the end of the film within the content and form of the film.  Despite this, it is still worth a look for being done in a professional manner, having good supporting actors like Hope Lange and John Fiedler.  As for those who say you need to read the book, which is one of the oldest clichés by cinematic illiterates and film-haters the world over, that is no excuse for a film to have problems.  At least it is ambitious and interesting.


The 1.33 X 1 full frame image is a bit of a problem, with the source print showing its age.  That is a shame, because this is nicely shot and edited.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono fares better of the original audio, but the combination with the oversimplified psychology makes this play like a TV movie in the best way.  Jack Schwartzman produced and it shows.  The only extras are a few stills and four trailers for other Empire Pictures titles.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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