Affluenza is defined as a psychological malaise supposedly affecting wealthy young people, symptoms of which include a lack of motivation, feelings of guilt, and a sense of isolation. The movie follows four teenage stereotypes. Fisher Miller, is the outsider desperately trying to find a way to fit in. His ‘in’ to the group is a young man who recently entered the affluent elite himself, Dylan Carter. Dylan was the outsider his whole life until his mother married into the exclusive world of mansions and lavish parties. He bribes Fisher with a college recommendation to help him get Kate Miller, Fisher’s cousin, to fall as deeply in love with him as Dylan is with her. Kate, however, is already dating Todd, the rich douchebag who treats her horribly.
Sig de Miguel and Stephen Vincent did an incredible job casting these obnoxious teens. They found actors who not only gave their character depth but also worked incredibly well off each other. Ben Rosenfeld, Boardwalk Empire series regular, in the lead role as Fisher has a unique sensibility that makes you believe he is a little quirky yet still has the charm to not only wiggle his way into ‘high society’ but also created a mysterious suave magnetism that entices the ladies. Rosenfeld had great onscreen chemistry with Greg Sulkin, from MTV’s Faking It, who plays Dylan Carson. He is a prime example of someone who could have everything but only wants what he can’t have. Sulkin also adds vibrant colors to the stereotypical love sick puppy dog, especially the desperate anger when he confronts Todd Goodman Kate’s ‘real’ boyfriend played by Grant Gustin, The Flash CW. In contrast to Barry Allen aka The Flash, Todd is an entitled overly judgemental boyfriend who never missed an opportunity to be patronizing or harsh to Kate. Gustin portrays his in a way that audiences still hate him but they also sympathize with him.
Despite some truly dynamic performances Affluenza just misses the mark. They set it up with immense potential but it seemed like screenwriter Antonia Macia and director Kevin Asch dropped the ball and missed a huge opportunity. The movie is set in the summer 2008 during the stock market crash. It seemed Affluenza would examine what happens to these teens when the wealth and exorbitant lifestyle they have come accustom to has been ripped from beneath them. Instead however it revolves around the trivial and typical downfall of teenage love.
If the woes of unrequited prepubescent love in Long Island with lavish parties, drugs and self destructive decisions sounds captivating Affluenza is the movie to see. It is available in select theatres as well as on demand on Itunes and Amazon.