Allison Torem on “The Wise Kids” and “Trust”

Allison Torem and Molly Kunz star in Stephen Cone’s “The Wise Kids.” Courtesy of Stephen Cone.

There’s a moment late in Stephen Cone’s “The Wise Kids” where the camera holds on the face of Laura (played by Allison Torem), a teenage Southern Baptist who’s finding her once close friend, Brea (Molly Kunz), gradually slipping away. What once seemed like an inseparable friendship has now reached its crossroads. Brea has developed serious doubts about her faith, while Laura still clings to her beliefs without the slightest hesitation. The scene isn’t about who’s “right” and who’s “wrong.” It’s about the aching desire of friends to stay the same even as change appears imminently and inevitably on the horizon.

This is one of countless moments in Cone’s film that took my breath away, and it was this particular moment that made me realize that Allison Torem is one of the most gifted and promising performers of her generation. When I met her to record this podcast, I was struck by how different she is from Laura, or from any of the past characters she’s played, for that matter. Torem received tremendous praise (and a Jeff Award nomination) for her work as a young teen targeted by an online predator in David Schwimmer’s stage production of “Trust.” On this podcast, Torem shares some wonderful stories about those two key projects, as well as chats about some of her future work, including the holiday drama, “Scrooge & Marley.”

I urge all Windy City cinephiles to catch “The Wise Kids” during its week-long run at the Gene Siskel Film Center starting October 26th. I’ll be discussing “The Wise Kids” and other recent indies at 9am Friday, September 28th on Chicago’s Vocalo 89.5. Feel free to tune in…

The program was produced at Columbia College Chicago. Technical producer was Rebecca Nystedt. An Indie Outlook production.

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