Goat (2016)

[7.0]

A college freshman pledges at his brother’s fraternity, but the hazing rituals trigger post-traumatic stress from an assault and robbery incident that happened the spring before. Ben Schnetzer (from the upcoming Y – The Last Man TV series) plays the lead role, while Nick Jonas plays his brother. Jonas’ character is at first excited to have his brother join him at the frat house, but soon begins to see how the hazing is triggering him. As you might imagine, the hazing goes too far — and both brothers must grapple with their responsibility in the fallout.

Goat is co-written by David Gordon Green (Joe, Pineapple Express) and co-produced by Christine Vachon (Carol, Kids). Along with director Andrew Neel, they present Goat as a focused, thematic exploration on recovery from violence. The first half of the film is often voyeuristic, giving us a fly-on-the-wall perspective of what I imagine to be a series of realistic frat hazings. The film gets less claustrophobic and a bit more conventional in its final act, but at least in a way that begs us to think about how we should deal with trauma and violence.

Schnetzer and Jonas give good performances. Gus Halper, Danny Flaherty, and Jake Picking (Rock Hudson in Hollywood) are all solid in supporting roles. James Franco has a cameo scene.

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