TIFF 2021: Lakewood dir. Phillip Noyce

Naomi Watts stars in Phillip Noyce’s white knuckle thriller, Lakewood. Even though there is a melodramatic bent to the film, the movie personifies every parent’s nightmare, and shows that even on personal days, you’re still a parent 24/7.

With the one year anniversary of her husband’s death approaching, Amy (Watts) is doing her best with her two children, and her life. Deciding to take a day to herself, and heading out for a run, she urges her teen son, Noah (Colton Gobbo) to get to school.

But even as she attempts to lose herself in the physical exertion she fields calls from work, family and friends, until an alert come through sending her into a full blown panic. Miles from anywhere, she learns that all the schools of her town, Lakewood, are in lockdown.

As she works to get any kind of info and find a way back to town, the news gets worse. There’s a shooter at the high school, and she can’t get in touch with Noah.

Calls to friends for information, a helpful mechanic, and 911 spike her adrenaline, as she pushes herself to get back to town, and find out where Noah is.

Unfolding in real time, and keeping Watts on screen for almost every scene, the story is all to relevant and relatable, even with the melodrama. Watts is electric, completely embodying the worries and terrors of every day parenting and then cranking it up to eleven when things spiral out of control.

Noyce and Watts are a great pairing in this film, and the message is more timely than ever, which is a sad commentary on the society it portrays. Taut, well-paced and great location work, Lakewood is a brisk thriller that embraces its terror and melodrama, and delivers solid thrills.

Lakewood screens at TIFF in person tonight, and digitally on Wednesday and Thursday.

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