By Michael Milardo | Drama
A teenage boy must choose between his friends and his future.

A teenage boy is at a crossroads in life. Like many teens, he’s enamored of his friends, and loves the feeling of belonging he gets from them as they prowl the streets of Vancouver, looking for adventures at night.

But he comes to realize that his friends are not the people he thought they were, and must think hard about who he truly is and what he values.

Writer-director Michael Milardo’s short drama is a timeless coming-of-age tale about growing up and forging your own path in life. Simple and classic in terms of theme and story, the coming-of-age story is one that resonates through filmmaking, thanks to the narrative opportunities offered by strong emotions, out-of-control hormones and unpredictable character choices.

Milardo’s story keeps the strong focus on the emotional life and development of Jacob, the young teenager at the heart of the film, but offers a dynamic aesthetic take, with subtle, intuitive performances and a loose, engaging style of camera and editing that creates energy while capturing the ebbs and flows of emotions.

Shot mostly at night, the film also takes place in the 90s, capturing the youth culture of the time, as well as growing up in a world before the Internet and social media took over nearly every avenue of communication. With its almost documentary feel, the film feels very much like a snapshot of a specific time and place while still being classically relatable.

“Roam” beautifully captures the magic of being young, alive and free, but also the danger and peril of making your own decisions and taking responsibility for who you are in life. Heartbreak, love, solidarity, friendship — they’re all being experienced for the first time, with a freshness that is both exhilarating when it’s good and agonizing when it isn’t.

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