Sometimes while watching movies we get that vague feeling of deja vu, and sometimes that feeling is almost welcomed. In Tyson Wade Johnston’s first full length feature, Streamline, the audiences are going to be hit with this sense of familiarity. Streamline has the same intensity, uncomfortableness, and brilliant performances as Damian Chazelle’s Whiplash. There is something deeply haunting about a minor doing everything in their power to overcome the odds and accomplish their dreams or realize that no matter what they do their past is always going to haunt them. Streamline brings forth this uncomfortable feeling, this sense of pride, and this deep fear of failing what expectations are brought onto you.
The film focuses on Benjamin Lane (Levi Miller) as he is trying to become an Olympic swimmer, while his mother and coach push him to his absolute limits. This doesn’t immediately irritate Benjamin as he seems to be content in the life and the lifestyle he has to follow. However, all of this comes crumbling down for him when his disgraced father, Rob Bush (Jason Isaacs) is released from prison and tries to reinsert himself into his son’s life. With his father’s impromptu resurgence into his life, Benjamin spirals out of control, moves in with his societal degenerate brothers, and abandons his commitments. With this young man having his entire life ahead of him, and while he was on the right path, watching his past come back to haunt him truly brings an unsettling feeling to the audience as we see the darkness that can be brought out by the ones who we thought would protect and care for us.
Streamline works for a lot of reasons, but the reason it works the most is the sheer powerhouse performance delivered by Levi Miller. He shows that he is more than the sum of the performances he has delivered in previous roles, and that with the right script and direction, he can deliver a heart-wrenching performance and not just be filled of charisma. Miller’s performance absolutely demolishes the audience, as it would be a safe assumption that most people have gone through something of the kind in their lives and can resonate with Benjamin’s struggle. There is nothing harder than trying to keep your composure and making the ones you care about proud of you, only to have something you can’t control switch you over to giving up on your dreams and aspirations. Jason Isaacs, who can play anything and everything, is rather underutilized in the film, unfortunately. While it is completely understandable that the film needs to be focused on the character of Benjamin, an uncomfortable flashback or two would’ve done wonders to further express why his reappearance would spiral Benjamin to those extents. While Isaacs certainly performs to the best of his abilities, he would’ve benefited from some extra screen time for his character to show how demonic and unrelenting he truly was.
Between the performance Miller brings and the script that Johnston wrote, there is something truly human and terrifying about the story the movie depicts. The deeply humanistic script of wanting to accomplish self-imposed goals, goals imposed onto one, and fear of failure, is something that almost all humans can relate to, making a film that will truly haunt and linger with the audience long after the film ends. The only issue with the script is that while it feels entirely original and new throughout the first two acts, the third feels very paint-by-numbers, unfortunately taking this strong and powerful film and turning it into a typical one at the end. While the ending leaves audiences wanting something more and craving something different than what is presented, it is almost refreshing to see a film so daring and inspirational while also hitting the wall in outfield instead of knocking it out of the park. Streamline absolutely slides into home plate, but misses the excitement that would come with a tense game being concluded with one wild homerun.
In select theaters and on VOD February 18th, 2022.
For more information, head to the official Blue Fox Entertainment Streamline website.
Final Score: 3.5 out of 5.