OTTAWA’S CINEMA FOR INTERNATIONAL AND INDEPENDENT MOVIES

Coconut Hero

Coconut Hero opens with 16-year-old Mike Tyson (‘not the boxer, a different one,’ baby-faced Alex Ozerov volunteers via voiceover) pressing the muzzle of a rifle to his forehead.  Mike is a conscientious kid: He spreads a plastic tarp on the floor and leaves a note instructing his single mom (Krista Bridges) to feed the fish, before trying to blow his brains out.

Poster art for Coconut HeroThe attempt fails, and instead of sympathy, Mike Tyson – who has a habit of referring to himself by his full name – receives the ultimate humiliation: The day his pre-planned obituary runs in the paper, his overbearing mom orders him back to class with a bandage wrapped around his head wound.

Mike Tyson can’t catch a break: At school, he’s teased by a group of kids six years his junior, while at the hospital, the doctor informs him that the gun stunt has revealed a brain tumor – news he keeps to himself, hoping that the terminal prognosis will save him the trouble of concocting another suicide scheme.

Why does Mike Tyson want to die, you ask? Basically, he’s a mopey, morbid guy (with his spare time, he starts stealing plywood to build his own coffin) looking for some reason to engage with his own life. He resents his mother, never really knew his father (Sebastian Schipper, who reenters his life late in the film) and fails to make friends among his peers.

The script’s job is to give him a reason to live, and it comes in the form of a beatific and dedicated social worker named Miranda (Bea Santos, a natural beauty with radiant, real-world energy), who is the first person in his life to appreciate him for who he is. ‘I like you Mike Tyson, but you know you’ve got a screw loose,’ she says.

Playing twee scenes with true sincerity, director Cossen manages to reveal something new and true about human nature. And then the ukulele comes out. And, as it happens, the ukulele song is actually pretty great.

– Peter Debruge, Variety
 

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