All for one and one for all, as long as the hierarchy of class, race and wealth stays in line. Director Ethan Berger’s narrative debut feature “The Line,” which premiered in Tribeca in 2023, is hands down one of the most accurate films about fraternity life ever made. Why? Well, aside from the homophobic jokes, the competitive tension between siblings, and the racist response to nonconforming female love interests, Casting feels more like a documentary than a scripted fiction film.
Berger, who co-wrote the screenplay with Alex Russek after years of researching Greek life, directs lead star Alex Wolff who starred in his own right to play Tom, a working student who has second thoughts about his schoolmate’s obsession. room Mitch (Bo Mitchell) for talkative promise Gettys (Austin Abrams). Tom tells his mother that being a part of the (fictional) Kappa Nu Alpha (KNA) fraternity is the key to getting postgraduate jobs; it is about the relationships built between siblings. Mitch’s father (John Malkovich), who has a monopoly on the meat market, casually offers Tom an internship over dinner, while fraternity president Todd (Lewis Pullman) asks Tom to accompany him to lunch with the fraternity principal. university.
Never mind that Tom is already getting lost in the Southern group he thinks behind the fraternity, even going so far as to adopt a “faux Forrest Gump accent,” according to his mom. And the “your mother” jokes continue within the frat walls, as Tom teases Mitch about his hot trophy mother (Denise Richards) and the rear end posters of women in thongs are “eaten” by the brothers through frequent licking.
However, the arrival of new up-and-comer Gettys throws the delicate balance of testosterone into chaos, as Todd has a special bond from home with the cocky freshman. “I’m just trying to fuck as many girls and have more fun,” Gettys says when asked why he wants to join KNA. Tom assures him that both will happen, but not to lose sight of the fact that three US presidents are also KNA alumni.
The sorority must lead by example on campus, between teasing “black lesbian” Annabelle (Halle Bailey) and snorting cocaine. Gettys proves invaluable early on, warning his fellow potential brothers about the downsides of cunninglingus on a prostitute (MST, Obviously) and why it’s the worst possible thing to be perceived as gay.
The shifting power structures between Todd, Gettys, Tom and Mitch play out like a game of musical chairs over which the brother is seen as a “liability” to the greater cause of the fraternity itself. Bobby (Angus Cloud) serves as comic relief and the epitome of the ever-tall stepbrother, one that fits Tom’s claim to love interest Annabelle that her siblings are just a bunch of (direct quote)” harmless retards”.
“The Line” is set in 2014, which explains the existence of the soon-to-be-iconic Gettys dance that performs the NSFW lyrics to The Wanted’s dated hit “Glad You Came.” Abrams is a force on screen, expertly paired with Mitchell’s unsettling performance as a too-rich-to-fail teenager who frowns at Wolff’s feelings of being a city between doing what he thinks is right and what sounds like a good fraternity old style. fun.
A fatal accident (or was it premeditated?) in the last third of the film leads to the core group of fraternity brothers being questioned by a detective (Scoot McNairy) in an ending reminiscent of “Promising Young Woman.” No one can go against the system or go out of line completely. The repercussions, if any, will always be unequal. A final shot using real news footage of Penn State freshman Timothy Piazza, who died during hazing rituals, concludes the Tribeca blockbuster. “The Line” is a must-see for a glimpse behind the cocaine-filled sheets of frat houses, well, everywhere.
“The Line” premiered at the 2023 Tribeca Film Festival. It is currently seeking distribution in the United States.