The Exchange: In Search Of A Similar Soul

4/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A small town teen, Ed Oxenbould, sets out to get a sophisticated French pen pal in order to find someone else like him. However, the exchange student he gets proves to be more than he bargained for.

Beneath the teen coming of age comedyiness of this film there is actually something quite soulful and human there. For every joke about sex, or some other teenage cliché, there are several deep comments about self-acceptance, racism and finding your place in a world where no one is like you.

I thought the cast across the board was strong, Oxenbould has come a long way since his days rapping in The Visit, and here he manages to capture acute social anxiety and embody the outsider better than any other actor I’ve seen in a teen film in a long while. Moreover, Avan Jogia is a delight here, he is the heart and soul of the film, and his character is beautifully written. Though he might seem like a young man with everything he could ever want in the world, he is actually far more troubled than that. I thought it was an ingenious choice to never really elaborate on what Jogia’s Stephane has experienced back home, but rather elude to it.

I would say the film’s humour is hit or miss. For the most part I didn’t find the teenage humour particularly funny, but I did find Justin Hartley to be hilarious. Hartley is truly an underrated talent; I found his man child character to be easily the most broken and most amusing character of the whole film.

Overall, a surprisingly insightful comedy film with a lot going on under the surface.

Pros.

Jogia

The deeper trauma

The coming of age elements

Oxenbould

Cons.

Not all the jokes land

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