Bryan McCarthy on 'Terri'

A brand-new reviewer for our online Culture section, Bryan McCarthy, a DPhil candidate in theology at Oxford University, writes about the touching new movie "Terri," where McCarthy (and the characters) found grace. 

Fundamentally, the new film Terri, directed by Azazel Jacob, is about grace—about needing it, not wanting it and giving it. While many reviewers have praised the work for its acting, inventive humor and novel approach to the labored theme of being a teenage reject, they have generally failed to note this aspect of the film. The film is sometimes poignantly uncomfortable and even frustrating. Ultimately, however, it presents us with a pair of quirky but inspiring characters who try to reveal God's activity in our world.


The subject matter of “Terri” is fairly simple. It covers a brief segment in the life of its title character, an overweight and underappreciated high school student (played by Jacob Wysocki) as he learns about himself and how to relate to others. The film doesn’t divulge many details of Terri’s personal life, but we know his parents are absent and he lives with his uncle (“The Office”’s Creed Bratton). “Uncle James” has a mentally degenerative disorder—about which the film is similarly reticent—and Terri cares for him.

Like most adolescent pariahs, Terri is a bit eccentric: he wears old-fashioned pajamas to school (“they’re just comfortable on me,” he says) and he regularly drapes dead rodents from his attic mousetraps over a log in the woods. When a hawk finally gobbles one up, his astonished gape shows that he is not just another teenager with macabre hobbies, as his uncle assumes. Rather, Terri seems mesmerized by his own participation in an expansive world that would otherwise carry on without his notice.

Read the rest here.

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