Thumbsucker Mike Mills

There are worse things in the world than sucking your thumb, but the reaction for many to such a natural, comforting habit is usually disgust (or so says Thumbsucker director Mike Mills in the special features, explaining the difficulties the film's title gave him in securing finances). Mills's first feature-length film isn't a documentary about the worldwide problem with thumb sucking but a clever and curious adaptation of the Walter Kirn novel. Justin (the brilliantly convincing Lou Pucci) is the "thumbsucker" in question — a 17-year-old looking for guidance to help discover himself. Yes, it's a coming of age story, but at the rate Justin travels and the experiments he chooses to help himself change it's like no other story you've seen. Surrounded by a terrific supporting cast of affected adults in situations not unlike Justin's, his world becomes ever-morphing in his attempt to find answers, extraordinarily filled with an aggressive, Ritalin-driven stint on the debate team, a blind-folded sexual relationship and a fraudulent bid to get into NYU. Known for his album cover designs and music videos, Mills has used his hip visualisation in crafting this film. The impression is one that falls between the boundaries of reality and reverie, assisted wonderfully by a beautiful, uplifting score by the Polyphonic Spree. The commentary with Mills is filled with ample details, as the director dissects the film with subdued "first time director" passion, but his conversation with author Kirn gives better insight into the story and the challenges both encountered. Hearing Kirn and Mills explain the obvious and underlying themes is also advantageous in realising that this isn't just some pretentious indie art flick conjured up by the next music video visionary-cum-feature film director. A "behind the scenes" documentary further delves into the depths of the film while giving candid interviews with its stars, who shed valuable light on their roles without the usual tediousness. (Sony)