Updated: Feb 22
Written by: #MattGray
Directed by: #MattGray
Film Review by: #ChrisBuick
Why not watch Chris' Video Review for Madison Baker Was Here?
Tomorrow, Madison Baker (Madeline L’Engle) is moving from California half way across the country thanks to her dad’s new job. Upset about everything she will leave behind and lamenting all the things undone or unsaid, her friends Cassie (Shaper), Blaire (Jenkins) and Nina (Weaver) convince her to sneak out tonight before the big move for one last hurrah. Realising that time is rapidly running out on her life here, reluctantly Madison agrees, even at the cost of striking a deal with her sister Paige (Sydney L’Engle) to keep her mouth shut in exchange for her beloved phone.
So, setting out into the night, the girls share their first drink of stolen-from-home vodka (been there), play truth or death (classic) and indulge in some petty vandalism (no comment) but find themselves with no substantial plans for the night. That is until Madison reveals her secret crush that she never got a chance to tell how she feels, thus lighting the spark for the mission that will take the girls on their journey into the wee hours of the night and straight to his door.
Madison Baker Was Here is very much the epitome of what indie filmmaking can achieve even on the most limited of budgets, because it nails what are arguably two of the single most important aspects of any film big or small; the story and its characters. That isn’t to say that Madison Baker Was Here isn’t impressive from a technical perspective, it is, and although its budget restrictions are often obvious, it wears that fact with pride and it’s clear how much care and attention has been placed in every aspect of the project from top to bottom.
But Gray clearly knows that its story that makes a good film worth watching. There are echoes of some of the great coming of age stories that have come before it, Stand By Me and the more recent Booksmart to name but a few but ultimately, Gray is able to connect with his audience in his own deep and meaningful way that allows us to want to take Madison’s journey with her to the very end, laughing, crying and cheering with her all the way.
Not only that, but Gray is also able to give each of his female leads their own fully realised and distinct personalities, each of them as well given their own specific arcs to play out and it’s in these four relatable characters is where almost certainly the film’s greatest strength lies. They act and talk like young girls should and that is a testament to a script that delivers an authentic but unique voice to almost all of its characters. There are a couple of jokes and one-liners that don’t land, not to mention one or two overly-silly plot points the audience is asked to go along with (why is there a guy driving around at all hours delivering eggs to his friends with a menagerie of animals roaming around his backseat?) but for the far greater majority, Madison Baker Was Here has a vein of truly witty brilliance running right through it.
Full of heart and almost guaranteed to put a smile on your face, Gray and company make damn sure we all know that Madison Baker was in fact, here.
Watch the trailer for Madison Baker Was Here here: