Film Scouts and Newsweek at Sundance 1999

The Adventures of Sebastian Cole

Adventure is exactly what Sebastian is afraid he won't find. As he scuffs his feet into adolescence, trapped in a small New York town with his "normal" family and "normal" childhood, he is unaware that life speeds toward him with full force. To begin with, Henry, his stepfather, proclaims he is not comfortable as a man and wants to be a woman. Confused and upset, Sebastian's mother drags him off to London. His biological father seems abnormally egocentric and selfish until you meet the rest of the family, and neither he nor his new trophy wife offers any real solace. Acting out and on the verge of losing it, Sebastian is shuttled back to the states and moves in with Henry/Henrietta, where they will have to learn to understand each other and themselves if he is to survive to manhood.

It is instantly evident that The Adventures of Sebastian Cole is not your average coming-of-age film. It is fresh and bold but also laced with incredible tenderness. Writer/director Tod Williams creates amazing dialogue that makes scenes cling to the memory long after. Adrian Grenier is a real find as Sebastian; he maneuvers perfectly through every tormented nuance and raging hormone. Clark Gregg as Henry/ Henrietta, along with all the characters in Sebastian's life, radiates crisp originality.

The Adventures of Sebastian Cole avoids the usual glossy gauze of sentimentality of most coming-of-age stories. Like The Catcher in the Rye, this rite of passage is told with unfettered honesty and integrity.

- John Cooper

Directed by: Tod Williams
Written by: Tod Williams
Starring: Margaret Colin, Aleksa Palladino, Adrian Grenier, Clark Gregg, John Shea, Rory Cochrane
Produced by: Karen Barber, Jasmine Kosovic

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