Although the disaffected youth drama knows no international boundaries, few have felt as fresh and consistently unpredictable as the slyly satirical “Prince” by Dutch filmmaker Sam de Jong.
Set in an Amsterdam housing project, the film follows the unmotivated 17-year-old Ayoub (Ayoub Elasri), who whiles away the hours with his bored buddies tossing homemade bombs in mailboxes and crushing on the local blond babe (Sigrid ten Napel).
An angry young man who takes out his frustrations on his single mom (Elsie de Brauw) but reserves some surprising tenderness for his junkie biological dad (Chaib Massaoudi), the impressionable Ayoub is well on his way down the wrong path — one being beaten by a purple Lamborghini-driving, psychotic gangster (rapper Freddy Tratlehner).
You can see the storm clouds forming a mile away, but the film, which shares a social commentary kinship with Lorde’s hit song “Royals,” throws in some unexpected sparks of optimism with all the brand name-checking.
Packing plenty of visual zip and terrific character faces into its compact running time, De Jong never allows the considerable quirkiness to upstage the storytelling. Although it’s too soon to tell whether this first feature warrants the crowning of a new talent in independent filmmaking, this 28-year-old is one to watch.
MPAA rating: None
Running time: 1 hour, 18 minutes.
Playing: Arena Cinema, Hollywood.