Firecrackers, written and directed by Jasmin Mozaffari, is yet another coming-of-age film to feature teenagers doing wild things. However, more often than not, it comes off as a wannabe-A24 movie, paling in comparison to the much better films American Honey and Never Goin’ Back.
Perhaps the most frustrating thing about this movie is that the characters aren’t particularly likable. The more successful films about rambunctious teens work because the characters are complex and nuanced. The protagonists of Firecrackers feel rather one-dimensional. Their arc is weak and as such, we are left with no impression of them other than their often annoying actions.
Despite the annoying nature of their characters, the two lead actresses are surprisingly charismatic and try desperately to make the movie work despite its many issues. Michaela Kurimsky and Karena Evans have great chemistry together and would be a great duo together given any other script. Hopefully they will get the opportunity to work together again, as their ability to bounce off of each other is great. However, the supporting cast which surrounds them is entirely unmemorable.
The arc at the core of the story — the girls’ quest to escape their small town — is quite compelling. The multiple subplots are what distract you from the quality of the central coming-of-age story. For example, a storyline about the mother of one of the protagonists never comes to fruition in a satisfying way.
Another issue that the film has is inconsistent pacing. For much of the runtime, the movie is meandering along with little regard for consistency. There are some portions of the film which are quite entertaining and fun, but other sequences feel like the cinematic equivalent of nails on a chalkboard. After watching the same thing over and over again, not only in this movie but in other movies in the genre, it no longer works.
Thematically, the movie has some interesting things to say, but none of them are particularly new for the genre. Most of what the film addresses is ground that has been trodden already by other more compelling and better-made movies than this to a level that will connect with audiences more effectively. Firecrackers may appeal to its target niche more than those other movies, but otherwise, this film fails to justify its existence.
On a technical level, the movie is relatively strong. Again, if you stack it up against some other entries in the genre, it won’t hold up, but compared to most other independent films, it’s pretty impressive. The cinematography is gritty and gets up close and personal with the characters, allowing the movie to have an added layer of emotion that it wouldn’t otherwise have.
Firecrackers is extremely disappointing because it had the potential to be much deeper and more resonant. Instead, what we get is something flat and often annoying. However, Mozaffari is a filmmaker to watch, as with a better script, she could give us a great film.
Firecrackers hits theaters and VOD on July 12.