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“The Toy Soldiers” centers on a group of disaffected teenagers in the 1980s. They all come together on one night for the closing of the local roller skating rink. Over the course of the evening, we see five separate stories focusing on the tragedy and turmoil in each of their young lives. Writer/director Erik Peter Carlson took the bold route of going extremely no holds barred. Much like other dark films about wayward youth (Kids, Rules of Attraction), Carlson does not hold back in taking us right into a dysfunctional world where kids deal with the pain of life with drugs, alcohol, and promiscuous sex. Behind those initial layers though there is something very profound. Each of these kids is fighting an immense battle against completely devastating home lives. As a viewer, I found myself really feeling for the characters on screen. Any time I can say that, I probably loved the movie. That is most definitely the case with “The Toy Soldiers”.

Carlson also got the most out of his very talented cast. From Najarra Townsend’s Angel a rough around the edges girl with a dark secret to Chandler Rylko’s Elliot a brooding but sensitive young man who is dealing with a whole laundry list of family issues. Each actor took on very demanding, emotional roles and knocked it out of the park. Constance Brenneman is the one that really stood out to me. She must have been exhausted after shooting, because in basically every scene she has she is bawling, severely drunk (acting, not literally), and emotionally all over the map. It was really impressive to watch.

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