TIFF 2022: I LIKE MOVIES Is A Coming Of Age Story About A Self Absorbed Cinephile

Published by Shah Shahid on

I Like Movies is a Canadian film by writer and director Chandler Levack. It’s quite possibly the surprise of the Toronto International Film Festival 2002. At least for me. Knowing nothing about the movie going in, I was surprised at the range of its young performers, the talent of the incredible cast, and the amazingly well-written story and even better direction from Levack. It’s not just that I Like Movies is a love letter to the medium itself. But it’s more of a tribute to every nerdy film fanatic who has ever felt like they had to hide from the world, either behind a lens or a screen. It also works as a heartwarming coming-of-age story, with some sadness and devastation, sprinkled in. As is life. Keep reading for my I Like Movies review from TIFF 22. 

I Like Movies Is Not A Documentary!

I like Movies friends.
A different kind of dynamic duo. | Image via TIFF.

I Like Movies is all about a young teen in the early 2000s, trying to figure out his place in life. While pissing off everyone else around him. Lawrence (Isaiah Lehtinen) is a film-obsessed teen who is also incredibly pretentious and kind of a snob. Especially when it comes to the movies he likes. From Lawrence’s perspective, he is a misunderstood genius who is ahead of his time. Like many of his favourite filmmakers. 

His goal in life is to go to NYU and become a filmmaker. But how he’s going to get there isn’t certain as Lawrence refuses to deal with the realities of his situation. The only child of a single mother, Lawrence has no idea who is going to pay for his university education. Realizing this he gets a job at a video store. It’s 2003, remember? Those are still a thing. And thus Lawrence‘s life gets even more complicated. But also a little bit better? Maybe?

Levack Creates Something Much More Than A Teen Comedy

I Like Movies works firstly as a coming-of-age teen comedy about growing up as a film bro douche. Lawrence at all times is completely unaware of the feelings and considerations of those around him. Especially those who care about him even a little bit. Pushing everyone away and constantly testing the boundaries of his relationships. Lawrence has to come to terms with the fact that life isn’t like the movies. 

But despite this obvious theme, I Like Movies is so much more than that. There’s an underlying narrative that weaves through that is highly relatable and incredibly universal. It’s also a hilarious take on teenage life in Canada in the 2000s. Getting a job is usually the first exposure to the real world that most teens get. In Lawrence’s case, it’s even more of a dramatic undertaking, given his lack of self-awareness and the self-obsessed bubble he lives in. 

The Cast Is Spectacular

I like Movies Lawrence.
The best performance in the movie. | Image via TIFF.

It’s difficult to play an unlikeable character. And while he’s the protagonist of this story, make no mistake, Lawrence is insufferable. Which makes Isaiah Lehtinen’s performance so much more amazing. Lehtinen plays Lawrence with all the nuances of a kid who refuses to look beyond himself. His struggle to grow and mature throughout the story is so organic, while also hiding so many more layers underneath. The performance speaks volumes about Lehtinen’s talent, making him such a joy to watch on screen. 

Playing his best friend, who is not immune to Lawrence’s inconsideration, is Percy Hynes White. The dynamic between Matt and Lawrence is playful, but quickly turns sour as Lawrence continues being… Lawrence. 

Hynes White is wonderful playing hurt, while also aloof. Lawrence’s video store boss, Alana, is played impeccably by Romina D’Ugo. In many ways, D’Ugo is the second lead of the story after Lawrence.

Being a newcomer in Lawrence’s life, Alana doesn’t take any of his shit. D’Ugo’s performance in I Like Movies is an absolute delight! Not only is her dynamic with Lehtinen lovely, but she shines in a performance that anchors the others around her. Not to mention one specific scene where she steals the entire movie. 

I Like Movies Review Conclusion

Overall, I Like Movies is a movie made for cinephiles by a cinephile. The film will resonate with cinephiles everywhere. With the outcasts who have loved movies from a young age, before it became cool to obsess about them. And not to mention, with all the others for whom movies act as an escape from their reality.

Levack takes the endearing teen drama genre and applies it to characters who themselves love movies. It’s a wonderful meta-storytelling approach that isn’t a wink and nod to other cinephiles. But rather a heartfelt story about growing up, stepping out of our individual bubbles, to experience the world outside. And the relationships that eventually come from those experiences. The period setting and timely humour are just amazing bonus material that enrich the film that much more. 

I Like Movies had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival 2022. 

Do you like movies that are about people who love movies? Or are about movies themselves? Let me know in the comments below. Or reach out to me on Twitter at @theshahshahid.

Shah Shahid

Entertainment Writer | Film & TV Critic | Bollywood Blogger | Host of Split Screen Podcast | Proud Geek Girl Dad


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