Daydream Nation is a Canadian drama that was released in 2010. It stars Kat Dennings and was written and directed by Michael Goldbach. The movie premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival to positive reviews.

I saw the film first on Netflix, in 2012, and it quickly became a favorite movie of mine.

Daydream Nation (2010)
Written and directed by Michael Goldbach
Movie of the Day

“People will tell you nothing matters, the whole world’s about to end soon anyway. Those people are looking at life the wrong way. I mean, things don’t need to last forever to be perfect.” – Caroline

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A quirky town shadowed with a darkness that is reminiscent of a Stephen King novel “town”, or maybe a darker Stars Hollow (Gilmore Girls), or a little lighter/a little less weird Twin Peaks. The town boasts a white-suited serial killer legend and an industrial fire that endlessly burns. Caroline (Kat Dennings), the sarcastic, well-read, whipsmart protagonist has just moved to this town and informs us at the start that this is the year where everything happened.

DN Movie of the Day

Caroline played brilliantly by Kat Dennings (sarcastic, well-read and whipsmart is so Kat Dennings jam) is bored, lonely and more than a little lost when she decides to shake things up in her life. She instigates an affair with her young-ish, attractive-ish English teacher (why is it always the English teacher? Played by Josh Lucas), while the resident “misfit boy” (Reece Thompson) in town pines away for her, and tries clumsily to win her heart.

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I know, I know, the summary does come off as a bit contrived, and perhaps it is, but the writing, dialogue, and execution is refreshingly realistic, well-written and witty. The teacher/student affair has been done ad-nauseum (including it always being an English teacher), but in this case, we see the teacher’s side of things, what issues are going on with him that fuel an inappropriate relationship, and how both sides of the dysfunction really play out. The “lost boy”, too, is more than he seems, as is his family, especially his single-mom, who teeters on the line of a desperately lonely woman and an aggressively protective mother. Andie MacDowell is fantastic and heartbreaking, as is her “lost boy” son, Thurston, played by Reece Thompson. When Caroline genuinely falls for Thurston, it is not a moment of predictability, it is a real moment of “YES” because you see why it happens, and as a viewer, you are feeling it, too.

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The last act of the movie has the most “happenings” (Caroline is right, this is the year when everything happens), and at times is slightly dizzying. It works, though, as the chaos, like everything else in the movie, is believable, and you feel like you are running through it all with the characters. The ending had me teary-eyed and wanting, desperately wanting, for the story to continue; to me, that is the best kind of ending.

Other Kat Dennings films I love: Defendor, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Thor and Charlie Bartlett.

Musically speaking (and with me, the music matters), Daydream Nation has a great soundtrack (something else I have always loved about indie movies). The soundtrack includes songs from some of my favorite artists, Emily Haines, Stars, Devendra Banhart, and Sebadoh.

“Telethon” by Emily Haines and the Soft Skeletons

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