Tag Archives: Eric Stoltz

Class Rank – Newport Beach Film Festival Review

Class president Veronica helps her fellow student Bernie run for a seat on the school’s board of education. At the same time, they push one another out of their comfort zones.

Release Date: April 21, 2017
Writer: Benjamin August
Director: Eric Stoltz
Cast: Olivia Holt, Skyler Gisondo, Shawn Kavanaugh, Bruce Dern, Kristin Chenoweth

For Veronica Krauss (Olivia Holt), her high school education is a stepping stone to her aspirations of sitting on the United States Supreme Court. Her dreams are threatened when she finds out that she is currently ranked second scholastically in her high school. She believes that her below perfect position will make it impossible to attend her choice Ivy League school.

Bernie Flannigan (Skylar Gisondo), on the other hand, is an awkward teen who feels his education is being diminished because his school chooses to fund French classes, while Bernie knows that Chinese is the language of the future. Week after week, Bernie attends his local school board meetings in hopes of one day enacting real change in his high school.

Veronica decides that the whole idea of a class ranking system is flawed and wants it abolished. The current school board is not willing to change precedent. With no hope of abolishing class ranking, her only hope is to help Bernie run for a seat on the board of education.

Bernie is somewhat of a social misfit. He lives with his grandfather Oswald Flannigan (Bruce Dern) because his parents passed in skiing accident. He is content writing blogs and submitting articles to the local newspaper. Veronica lives with her mother, Janet (Kristin Chenoweth) who works on Law and Order: Special Victims Units. Janet dispenses wisdom that is best suited for Benson and Stabler, instead of her teenage daughter.

Both Veronica and Bernie are forced to step out of their comfort zones to win the election. They find that they the need each other to help them grow into maturity.

Class Rank is a sweet film about the friendship of Veronica and Bernie. Surprisingly, it is less about the cutthroat world of small town politics, but it’s a story about finding love in unexpected. It is lite storytelling with heart and innocence. This may not be the most original story, but writer Benjamin August and director Eric Stoltz tells an engaging story, that you will fall in love with.

In a day of contentious politics, Class Rank puts the political ideology in the background. Bernie’s ideas for the local school will make any liberal and conservative cheer and boo.

Ultimately the acting and character interactions are what makes this movie fun. The character of Bernie is awkward and quirky and could be considered borderline Asperger, but Gisondo manages to give him sympathy while at the same time make him a viable candidate for the small town. Holt manages to walk the line between being a school leader and the insecurities of being a school loner.

There is also the joy of watching Bruce Dern play Bernie’s grandfather. What easily could have been the grumpy old man, Dern’s portrayal of Oswald shows a man who loves his grandson, wants to see him succeed and take advantage of his senior status.

Class Rank is a simple story of pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zones and allowing our friends and family become the catalyst for change.