Attention all classic literary enthusiasts, “The Peanut Butter Falcon” is a comic fable billed as a “modern Mark Twain style adventure story.” Contrary to the implications of the film’s title, the piece deals neither with the savory sandwich spread or the American football team located in Atlanta. Open to wide release and showing at Brookline’s own Coolidge Corner Theater, this indispensable indie gem is accumulating much-needed exposure for filmmakers with a remarkably singular vision. For viewers who find themselves fatigued by the constituted formula, this profoundly earnest adventure is bound to tickle your sense uninhibited fancy.

Before entering the cinema, one must prepare the face muscles for a preordained, cheek-to-cheek grin lasting up to 90 minutes. “Peanut Butter Falcon” is a rapturous modern fable that synchronizes delicate topics of the subnormal and disenfranchised with effortless optimism and compassion. The film introduces Zack Gottsagen in the lead role as a 34-year-old actor with Down syndrome. The film also stars Dakota Johnson, and Shia LaBeouf (in a career revitalizing role), among a slew of A-list cameos. Giving agency and vigor to it’s cast of misfits, the film transcends “PC” connotations surrounding Down syndrome and subsequent social ostracism. Acting as a whimsically modernized itération of the misadventures of “Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer”, Gottsagen and LaBeouf, respectively, incarnate the motley crew of social outcasts. Gottsagen plays a mentally disabled idealist gone rogue, in pursuit of absolute autonomy. He crosses paths with LaBeouf’s Tyler, a devil-may-care, petty criminal with a heart of gold. The miss-matched bandits develop a palpable companionship that serves as the driving force to the narrative.

Gottsagen, in his first feature film; engenders one of the most sympathetic and friendly film characters in recent memory. We root for him with unbinding loyalty and affection, surveying his road to liberation with the utmost satisfaction. LaBeouf, on the heels of a buffet of public meltdowns; adopts the ideal role to fortify a comeback. From frail masculine ego, evolving into a character of tender compassion and dog-like loyalty, LaBeouf commands us to empathize with him on a self-referential level. A committed Dakota Johnson prowls the perimeter of the two lead’s alliance, fitting amicably into the context. John Hawkes, Thomas Hayden Church, Bruce Dern, and Jon Bernthal all make appearances in small but significant roles. However, it is genuinely the performances and comprehensive character nuances of Gottsagen and LaBeouf that actualize the film’s plight of poetic justice.

With a scope of minimalist proclivity, in contrast with dense and provocative motifs, the film allows us to enjoy the ride, and learn something on the way. “The Peanut Butter Falcon” leans on an unconventional accord, demonstrating humanist ideals of love and empathy conquering all. We are presented two notably imperfect and stigmatized people; who are as intricately textured and human as anyone else. The film isn’t concerned with casting beautiful people going through first world problems; nor is it concerned with ruminating in the pity of the disadvantaged minority. Instead, we glide along with imperfect characters reveling in their defects; showing that our faults don’t define us. We are shown through the eyes of an atypical protagonist, that what defines us is our will to live and love.  My Score: 8.9/10

By Sam Clark