Eastern College is ostensibly a coming of age buddy movie about four friends who are about to finish college. What starts off as a corny, drunken party comedy develops into a character study with hidden depth. It is an indie film but the acting and direction are surprisingly accomplished and there is a refreshing honesty here.
The four friends are Nathan, Dom, Justin and Bob and they spend their final year at college in the house of the recently deceased Dean. Big parties, plenty of weed, booze and women are the order of the day. Nathan is the sensible one of the group and seems to be the only housemate with a genuine desire to learn while at college. When he finds out the new Dean, a hard nosed woman with a chip on her shoulder, intends to turn the Art School into a Business School he helps one of the Professors to fight her.
The plot sounds incredibly clichéd and the characters do initially appear to be typical stereotypes. The early comedy is goofy and a sense of reality only gradually seeps in as we find these characters have other sides to them. The dialogue is authentic and many of the situations have a ring of truth about them which is no doubt because writer and director James Francis Flynn based the film partly on personal experience.
Nathan was played by Jonathan Dicks and he did well with the role. Christopher Clark Cowan was convincing as Dom and Brandon Lea was very good as Bob. Each of the friends had a romance which developed throughout the film and the most engaging was between Justin, played by Noah Applebaum and Hannah Phelps who played Natalie. They were long time friends who finally got together but things didn't go smoothly. Noah Applebaum gave the best performance of the film.
Eastern College is quite refreshing as a college movie and while there were elements of the film which felt weak it was engaging and it did conjure some nostalgic feelings up. For most of us college and university are important for social development and they determine the people we will be later in life and often the friends we will have. The qualification you get is secondary to the life experience and the film offers up this simple truth.
There were a few chuckles along the way but Eastern College isn't really a comedy. It deals with some issues most of us will be familiar with from our own time in higher learning but there is no sugar coating or moralising and that is truly refreshing to see. To begin with I suspected Eastern College was going to be a cheap Animal House clone but it is actually a very different beast and much better than the college movie synopsis would suggest. A solid, well made indie production which brings a much needed fresh twist to a tired genre.