Back to IndieWire

Review Roundup: Tim Sutton’s Debut Feature ‘Pavilion’ is a Lyrical Exploration of Youth

Review Roundup: Tim Sutton's Debut Feature 'Pavilion' is a Lyrical Exploration of Youth

Tim Sutton’s directorial debut “Pavilion,” which premiered at the 2012 SXSW Film Festival, is now available via Factory 25 and Oscilloscope Labs on VOD, iTunes, Amazon and more digital platforms. The film opened theatrically in select cities on March 1st, to critical praise.

As on reviewer describes it, the “gorgeously lensed tone poem” dreamily follows lone teenager Max (Max Schaffner) as he moves from a lakeside town to his father’s home in suburban Arizona. What unfolds is a wistful portrait of romantic youth. Critics note the influence of Gus Van Sant, Larry Clark and Terrence Malick in Sutton’s direction. Review highlights, and a trailer, below.


The images appear deceptively casual, the action virtually unrehearsed, as if the team has merely turned on the camera, which typically remains fixed, to spy on the way kids of privilege but no apparent purpose pass their time. Still, the beauty of the footage is undeniable, and the aimlessness never overstays its welcome as the film documents that strange stretch in our lives when nothing seems to matter more than the present moment, suspended in a sort of idle immortality.

The New York Times:

There’s no inciting incident or barbed narrative hook, and it’s unclear if this is a fictional work or a documentary. Unguided by obvious story signposts, you slip from image to image, pulled along by their beauty (the digital cinematography is by Chris Dapkins) and by the dreamy, leisurely rhythms of the editing (by Seth Bomse).

Mr. Sutton tends toward quiet. And while his characters don’t say a lot in these 70 ephemeral minutes, he says enough to make you wonder what’s next.


Putting tone ahead of plot, Sutton’s fascinating character study follows an alienated teenager forced to abandon his serene lakeside home and move in with his father in a very different sort of desolation in suburbia. Gorgeously shot to accentuate individual moments, “Pavilion” unfolds on majestic lakes and empty parking lots with equal measures of lyricism. The movie has a mesmerizing pull that gradually pulls you into its hypnotic effect until the young protagonist’s subjectivity has been transferred into the viewer’s mind. A startlingly perceptive first feature. 

Sign Up: Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our Email Newsletters here.

This Article is related to: Reviews and tagged , , , , ,

Get The Latest IndieWire Alerts And Newsletters Delivered Directly To Your Inbox