Cluster -- Film Review

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CANNES -- Suicide is contagious, not painless in this compelling documentary on teen suicide. Focusing on a small town in Wales, Bridgend, "Cluster" begets its title from the outbreak of teen suicides in this otherwise typical Welsh burg.

At 105 minutes, this Open Source Pictures documentary playing in the Market could readily be cut to an hour and would make a solid cable offering.

Filmmaker Zachary Newmark, who also narrates, has painstakingly assembled a wide spectrum of opinion on this sad topic. Particularly compelling are his documentation of the media sensationalism that accompanied these deaths, and how such tabloid simple-mindedness possibly can prompt copycat behavior.

Newmark studies the sorrowful subject from every angle, culling interviews from government officials, religious figures, media analysts, sociologists, friends of the deceased, families -- it's exhaustive. It's also exhausting: The talking-heads interviews are often redundant or distended. Ultimately, the film's interviewing rigor enervates its overall insights and explorations.

Nevertheless, while more is less in this "Cluster," the telling of this heartbreaking tale is a stirring social document.
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