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The Independent Critic

Zach White, Cody Cox, John Delahunt, Stephanie Foran, Jason Sahely, Sean Sinclair, Mike Thorn
Brendan Prost
95 Mins.
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 "Choch" Review 
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It must be weird to be Brendan Prost. At 21-years-old, the Calgary DIY filmmaker is a student at Vancouver's Simon Fraser University, a radio show host, an amateur podcaster and, of course, a filmmaker. Prost's first full-length feature, Generation Why, was praised by The Independent Critic as a "solid example of low-budget, guerilla filmmaking."

Choch is even better.

From the -

Choch [ch-aw-ch]:

  1. “Ultra cool” hip college kids that fill bars to the bursting point. They all wear the same clothes, have the same haircut, talk the same, have the same superior attitude, and are all dicks.

  2. Guys who think they are cool and are not, but aren't afraid to kick your ass to prove how cool they aren't.

  3. Frat guys, guidos, preps, jocks, Jersey Shore types, etc.

  4. A young adult male.

See also: chach, chawch, chongo, guido, douchebag.

Our lead character in Prost's latest film doesn't go by a name, perhaps he hasn't earned the right. Instead, he is simply regarded as The Choch (Zach White). The characters around him? The Choch's father (Cody Cox), The Choch's friends (John Delahunt, Sean Sinclair and Jason Sahely) and The Choch's new friend (Stephanie Foran). Oh, and there's The Choch's old friend (Mike Thorn).

Just as he did with Generation Why, Prost has assembled a deeply felt and intimate world that is honest in its dishonesty and yet a world that seems, almost against all odds, as strangely fixable and, in quiet and unspoken ways, actually hopeful.

The Choch in Choch is an ultra cool kid who neither feels not exudes coolness, instead expressing his own self-hatred and inner loathing in his words, his actions and really in his very being. He looks normal. He acts normal. Is he normal? Is this normal?

Choch is heavy on the improv, an effective rarity among dramatic films but an approach that works wonders in giving the film an authentic, spontaneous feeling that makes even lead Zach White's body language feel deeply birthed and painfully realized. There's an old saying that "ignorance is bliss," which might explain why White's Choch is freaking lacking in anything remotely resembling bliss. The Choch is painfully aware of his inadequacies, they've been blown up in his mind to the point of serving as billboards of his own character flaws. He doesn't seem to care for the way he acts or the things he says, but he does it all anyway then cowers deep within himself. White, a non-professional actor with limited experience, gives a revelatory performance as The Choch, sometimes simultaneously being repulsive and compelling in the same shot. His scenes with his male friends are filled with macho bullshit bravado and hints of self-loathing that appears constantly on the edge of exploding either inwardly or outwardly.

It is The Choch's scenes with his new friend, played brilliantly by Stephanie Foran, that give Choch an emotional resonance and lasting impact that are simply unforgettable. Film after film has portrayed misunderstood youth, but Prost excels in drawing out the dynamics between The Choch and his new friend because he never forces either individual to completely sell out. There are no miracle cures, overnight changes or seismic shifts. There's simply the realization that, sometimes, when we least expect it someone impacts us and triggers something deep within that alters our psychosocial landscape.

Choch benefits from a tremendous accompanying soundtrack including music by The Age of Rockets, Faded Paper Figures and The Nix Dicksons, all giving the film a vibrant and compelling aura. Shot on hi-def video in black-and-white, Choch radiates an emotional honesty that makes it one of the most intriguing and involving low-budget indies to cross my desk in 2011.

For more information on Choch, visit director Brendan Prost's website. If you get a chance, this is definitely an indie you'll want to check out!

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic