Chestnut Film Review Frameline47

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Natalia Dyer Shines in the Unique and Emotionally Charged Coming-of-Age Drama “Chestnut”

I am drawn to coming-of-age stories, especially when they offer a unique perspective. “Chestnut,” a film produced by Utopia and Neon Heart Productions, captivated me with its interesting premise and talented lead actress, Natalia Dyer. The fact that the film was written and directed by Jac Cron, a female filmmaker, added to its appeal. “Chestnut” tells the story of Annie James (Natalia Dyer), a recent college graduate preparing to move to California for her dream job. However, she hesitates to leave behind her college town in Pennsylvania, which becomes even more complicated when she gets involved with two individuals, Tyler (Rachel Keller) and Danny (Danny Ramirez), during the summer.

An Engaging and Authentic Performance

Natalia Dyer delivers a brilliantly subtle performance as Annie in “Chestnut.” Rather than overacting, she keeps the character grounded and authentic, making her relatable to the audience. Annie’s internal conflict of leaving behind a familiar place resonates with viewers who may have faced similar dilemmas in their own lives. Dyer’s portrayal captures the complexity of a young person at a crossroads, torn between her relationships and the uncertainties of the future. This relatability is a testament to the exceptional character development in the film.

Annie’s Journey of Self-Discovery

“Chestnut” revolves around Annie’s narrative, taking audiences on an emotionally poignant coming-of-age journey. As Annie grapples with the end of her college career and the pressure to move on, her hesitations and internal struggles are palpable. The film delves into the aftermath of graduation and the flood of emotions that accompany such a significant milestone. Annie’s character feels introverted yet longing for more experiences, painting a realistic portrait of a young adult searching for their place in the world.

With Annie’s hesitancy to let go, “Chestnut” explores themes of finding closure at the end of a chapter in one’s life. The authenticity of Annie’s character allows the audience to empathize with her journey while highlighting the universal desire to hold onto the comfort of familiar surroundings. Dyer’s portrayal convincingly conveys the introspective nature of Annie, emphasizing her growth and exploration beyond her comfort zone.

Chemistry and Unique Perspectives on Sexuality

The onscreen chemistry between Natalia Dyer’s Annie and Rachel Keller’s Tyler is a standout aspect of “Chestnut.” From their first meeting, their connection is palpable, capturing the audience’s attention. The highs and lows of their relationship make for a captivating watch. What sets “Chestnut” apart is its refreshing exploration of sexuality through Annie and Tyler’s characters, offering a perspective rarely seen in cinema.

Director Jac Cron’s script wastes no time in introducing the main characters and guiding the story at a steady pace. Each character, including Tyler and Danny, is well-written and incredibly realistic. Rachel Keller’s portrayal of Tyler is particularly intriguing, constantly subverting expectations as the character surprises both the audience and Annie. While some decisions Tyler makes may be questionable, they align with how genuine individuals might behave in her situation.

Similarly, Annie’s authenticity extends to her portrayal of a typical person in their mid-twenties, discovering who they truly are after graduating from college. The film excels at capturing the internal struggle between holding onto the past while yearning for personal growth and change.

An Impactful Narrative with Lasting Impressions

One of the most powerful elements of “Chestnut” is its exploration of how certain people can leave an enduring impact on our lives, even if they are not always present. Annie’s relationships with Tyler, Danny, and her past experiences shape her character and provide her with both comfort and a sense of attachment to her college town. The fleeting moments of tranquility she experiences with Tyler and Danny are juxtaposed with the weight of her impending life changes.

The film raises pivotal questions about finding peace and moving forward. Can Annie lift the weight of uncertainty and reach true tranquility? What will become of her relationships with Tyler and Danny once she finds that peace? These questions propel the narrative, allowing viewers to join Annie on her quest for answers. The story maintains its focus on Annie’s personal growth, capturing her emotional journey and its impact on the audience.

Annie James: A Memorable and Heartfelt Character

Ultimately, “Chestnut” revolves around Annie’s story and journey, rather than just her romantic relationships. Annie James is the heart and soul of the film, and her character arc is both memorable and genuine. Audiences will find themselves deeply immersed in her shoes, experiencing a range of emotions throughout the film. By the end, tears may be shed for reasons not immediately understood, as Annie’s story has the power to evoke a profound emotional response.

An Emotional Visual Experience

The cinematography in “Chestnut” is striking, effectively capturing the essence of a small college town and creating an intimate atmosphere. The skillful use of lighting heightens the emotional impact of key moments, allowing viewers to fully immerse themselves in Annie’s journey. The film pays attention to the small details, making the audience feel like they are right alongside Annie, experiencing the story firsthand.

A Melodic Soundtrack Enhancing the Coming-of-Age Atmosphere

The soundtrack of “Chestnut” adds depth to the indie and coming-of-age aspects of the film. The carefully selected songs, which may be unfamiliar to many viewers, enhance the overall storytelling experience. The soundtrack complements important moments, effectively conveying the right energy and further immersing the audience in Annie’s emotional journey.

A Captivating Indie Darling

Natalia Dyer’s exceptional performance in the lead role is likely to make “Chestnut” an indie darling. The film, masterfully written by Jac Cron, maintains its authenticity throughout, captivating viewers with its intimate storytelling. Audiences will experience a wide range of emotions as they follow Annie’s transformative journey, making “Chestnut” a beautiful and resonant cinematic experience.


“Chestnut” combines an intriguing premise with powerful performances, effectively exploring themes of self-discovery, love, and the challenges of transitioning into adulthood. Natalia Dyer’s portrayal of Annie James is exceptional, resonating with viewers on a deep level. The film’s impressive cinematography and carefully curated soundtrack further enhance the emotional impact of Annie’s story. “Chestnut” stands out as a remarkable coming-of-age drama that leaves a lasting impression.


1. Is “Chestnut” a LGBTQ+ film?

Yes, “Chestnut” explores themes of queer identity and sexuality through the characters of Annie and Tyler. The film offers a unique perspective on relationships and love.

2. What is the significance of the film’s title, “Chestnut”?

The title “Chestnut” symbolizes the idea of nostalgia and familiarity, reflecting Annie’s struggle to leave behind her college town and embark on a new chapter in her life.

3. Who should watch “Chestnut”?

“Chestnut” appeals to individuals who enjoy coming-of-age stories, character-driven narratives, and emotionally charged dramas. It offers a fresh perspective on the challenges faced by young adults transitioning into adulthood.

4. What sets “Chestnut” apart from other coming-of-age films?