Toy Soldiers

Starring: Samuel Nolan Jeanette May Steiner, Najarra Townsend, Chandler Rylko and Nick Frangione
Written and Directed by Erik Peter Carlson




Toy Soldiers
is a wonderfully truthful, cuttingly visceral, look back at a handful of teens as one fate-filled evening, zeniths and forges new, or expected, paths for their next few decades...and, TS is a talent-filled indie film whose only downfall is in its editing; the old "coulda have been superb if editing had been tighter."

Story goes… Toy Soldiers is a popular roller skate hang spot for a group of teens. It’s the 1980s and each is dealing with some really heavy points of life; what will their future be. Can they be brave, kind, truthful and so forth. High drama.

Each character we are privy to is intertwined with the others – in that way that high school friends mean so much at the time. And, each person you meet reads real. Be aware there is no comic relief thrown in to offer respite from the often terribly ominous tales. But there are deep resonating characters you follow, and by the end, care for. Though, thanks again to editing mostly, you’ll need to ride through a few confounding areas.

And if you're into a Oscar (r) fantasy league of our future thespians you can cull a couple from here. As there are probably three about-to-be great character actors playing upon the frames and maybe even a mass product star thrown in. For their work alone one should see the film.

Jeanette May Steiner, as Layla, and Najarra Townsend, as Angel, both turn their stereotype-on-paper role into layered infused women facing one helluva dark and stormy future…unless they can claw their ways out of their cruelly inflicted teen personas and fast. The performances are compelling - and in a big ensemble no less. Samuel Nolan plays the high school’s “queer.” His work in sharing the inner-boil any young person feels as an outcast who is whispered about and taunted will break and then warm the coldest of viewers' hearts. The maybe movie star? Chandler Rylko, as Elliot Harris, who even did a role as an Ashton Kutcher look alike before showing he can actually act here; a mansteak cutie with talent.

Toy Soldiers high drama is well executed and the words spoken so real you feel like you’re intruding. The lives of these heading-to-adulthood-at-a-clip characters can be hard to watch, emotionally speaking; if you have a soul. Yet, the film’s end, when writer/ director Erik Peter Carlson tags on a documentary-styled here’s-what-happened-after blurb sentence on each, you realize why they seemed so real, this may just be a part of his own teen experience and his interpretation of a few of the people who populated it. Which is why it read so, but, wow, these kids had it pretty rough. This is a director to watch. When he learns the art of the edit? Yeah. A possible force.

Snack recommendation: Get the mega-junior mints and cookie dough nuggets; you're going to want sugary happy-place treats.

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