XOXO (2016): Lost in the Music (Review)


Sarah Hyland in XOXO

In a perfect world the “rave” or more accurately the EDM fest, XOXO could really  be as depicted in this film.  A place where young people can get lost in the music and not worry about overdosing on ecstasy (E) or being mugged, shot, stabbed or attacked (or even dying).  A look at the EDC in Las Vegas with its yearly casualties is an excellent reminder that all is not youthful histrionics at these festivals.

Leaving reality aside, this is, after all, a film, XOXO is an ensemble piece that could be seen as a coming of age film.  There is a YouTube DJ who gets a spot at the festival, a young girl is meeting her soul mate, a couple on the cusp of breaking up, and a young manager who wants to live the dream.  There is also an older, 30 something, music lover, a former DJ who gets caught up in the action.

The film is not bad. It almost feels like a Disney rendition of the EDM scene though. There are no really bad people here and certainly no drug dealers, officer.  It is all about the music. Except for the “acid tongued” girl who doses up Tariq (Brett DelBuono) on his way in and “drug guy” the film is pretty much “G” rated. 

(In many ways, Drug Guy (Scotty Dickert) feels like a refugee from the 1982 film Fast Times at Ridgemont High.  The stoner in that film was played by a very young Sean Penn.)

Written and directed by Christopher Louie (his first film) and starring Sarah Hyland, Graham PhillipsChris D’EliaHayley Kiyoko and Colin Woodell, XOXO follows a small group of people whose paths converge at the festival. 

Out of the entire group the journey that Tariq takes pretty much  steals the thunder of the whole film.  After being kissed by LSD girl, the manager’s torturous path to find his best friend and client is truly hysterical.  Weird and quirky fun, the rest of the film is easily overshadowed by this character’s story.

In many ways the film  showcases EDM, where good DJs are demigods who have devout followings.  Although the fest is referred to as a rave in the film, this is far removed from the days of holding music festivals illegally in abandoned hangars and warehouses.  None of these participants would need to run from the cops mid “concert.”

Although this ensemble film follows the journeys of seven people at the festival it is the backdrop of the XOXO music fest that shares center stage with the actors.  The shots of the audience getting caught up in the sounds and being lifted by the music permeate nearly every scene.

While there is only two scenes that focus on drugs, or two characters; the “drug guy” and the blonde girl with the tab of acid on her tongue, it is clear that Molly, or Ecstasy is still part of the scene. The four guys who want their money back from Neil (D’Ella) or a pound of his flesh, all become calm and lovey later.

The film looks brilliant. The black light room, the VIP rooms and the set, which does look like a real music festival screams authenticity to a huge degree.

XOXO is a romantic drama located in the EDM world.  It may not come near reality, again think the Las Vegas EDC festival here, but it is a feel-good film that leaves the viewer smiling and nodding as the final credits roll.

This Netflix film is a 3.5 star film; losing one and a half stars because, in reality, apart from the EDM setting, there is nothing really new here.  It does entertain and Hyland is so cute she takes the breath away there is nothing  in XOXO to write home about.

The film is on Netflix at the moment and definitely worth a look. Check out the trailer below:

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, http://MikesFilmTalk.com Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

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