About Scout could’ve gone in the wrong direction, but it doesn’t. Despite following a “to do” list of quirky indie things with precocious characters who have been schooled by Juno Technical Institute, there’s a consistent sincerity that never failed to smitten.
Scout (played by India Ennenga, who is also given a story credit with director Laurie Weltz) is barely getting by. Her flakey father (Tim Guinee) deserted her with her ailing grandmother (Ellen Burstyn) at a young age. Because Gram is more-or-less immobile, Scout is usually looking out for her sister’s wellbeing. She’s matured faster than other kids and is crafty when freestyling plans or scams. Surprisingly, she’s able to charm strangers effortlessly as well, such as the case with a psych ward patient named Sam (James Frecheville).
It’s only surprising because normally someone as cocky as Scout would turn people away. In any other movie, that might be the case. However, India Ennenga is engaging as pesky, clever Scout which allows supporting performances to open up and build a repertoire with her. Even bit players with limited screen time find a way to gel with her. Frecheville, who is essentially playing a more accessible version of his wretched maniac from Mall, is another standout as Scout’s partner-in-crime. Frecheville is classically suave as he channels Sam’s sensitivity and anger throughout. It’s a rare combination of mainstream expectations and “off-bounds” character struggles, and he succeeds wonderfully.
Sam and Scout eventually hit the road to search for Scout’s sister, who has been picked up suddenly by her wayward dad and equally dishevelled girlfriend Georgie (Nikki Reed). During their search, the two misfits commit crimes to fend for themselves. Watching Sam and Scout act archaic while a lighthearted indie soundtrack plays underneath them is a tough pill for the audience to swallow and never quite settles. However, some good jokes and kindred developmental moments cushion the fall.
Just like the film’s leading female, About Scout cuts through any pessimism with genuine sweetness. It’s well worth seeking out.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie