My Old School
by George Wolf
Brandon Lee was a mystery wrapped in an enigma inside the body of an awkward Scottish high schooler.
Or, maybe he was something else. My Old School revisits those teenage days for a light and entertaining look at a head-scratching scammer.
Brandon’s story was set to be told in a Mid-90s movie starring Alan Cumming. That project never got off the ground, but now Cumming finally gets his chance to play the part, lip-synching Brandon’s interview audio because the real guy won’t show his face.
And why is Brandon still hiding?
Well, that’s one of the mysteries writer/director Jono McLeod hopes to unravel.
Talking to Brandon’s former classmates and often re-creating their memories through animation, McLeod introduces us to the boy his peers first knew.
In 1993, Brandon enrolled as a 16 year-old at Bearsden Academy, a secondary school in an upper class section of Glasgow. His intelligence and behavior made him a favorite of the staff, but the kids found him weird.
Getting cast as Lt. Cable in the school’s production of South Pacific changed Brandon’s social status. And soon there were friends, holidays, brushes with the law, multiple passports and…oops.
Obviously, knowing as little as possible about this case benefits how the film will hit you, but even the biggest revelations don’t land quite as hard as McLoed seems to think they will. There are no jaw-on-the-floor twists on the order of 2012’s The Imposter, but some interesting questions are raised about selective memory and a belief in Jedi mind tricks.
An animation style that recalls MTV’s “Daria” and the laugh-it-off vibe of Brandon’s old classmates only fuels the feeling that the film is a little too forgiving of its subject.
Looking back, most everyone involved now admits that they should have looked closer at Brandon Lee. Entertaining a yarn as it may be, My Old School might have been more compelling by doing the same.