Tribeca Review: The Line

Tribeca Review: The Line

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Ethan Berger’s “The Line” dives deep into the murky waters of fraternity culture, a world that can feel as outdated as it is bewildering. This isn’t a film that tries to glamorize or gloss over the reality of frat life. Instead, Berger, along with co-writer Alex Russek, tears away the façade to expose the guts of one particular fraternity, and it’s not pretty. What they reveal is a mix of homophobia, racism, sexism, privilege, and entitlement—pretty much all the things you hope wouldn’t be thriving in a modern college setting.

The film makes it clear early on that the boys of Kappa Nu Alpha (KNA) are operating with little oversight, and their antics often go unchecked, even when they lead to disastrous consequences. Despite the heavy dose of reality, Berger and Russek manage to find a thread of humanity, mostly through the story’s main character, Tom, played by Alex Wolff.

Tom’s initial reasons for joining KNA are pretty relatable—he’s looking for an escape and a sense of belonging that he feels is missing from his life. Raised by a single mom (played by Cheri Oteri), who humorously points out his newfound “faux Forrest Gump accent” after a summer away, Tom is a kid caught between two worlds. When he returns to college and immediately starts participating in the hazing of new pledges, it’s clear he’s slipping into some dangerous patterns.

As the film progresses, Tom starts to question the values and actions of his frat brothers, especially as he tries, and fails, to impress a classmate, played by Halle Bailey. Their awkward interactions are a refreshing twist on the typical college movie romance—she’s not the least bit swept off her feet by him, which serves as a reality check for Tom.

Back at the fraternity, tensions rise when a pledge named Gettys (Austin Abrams) clashes with Tom’s roommate and close friend, Mitch (Bo Mitchell). The situation escalates, forcing Tom to confront the harsh truths about the brotherhood he once idealized.

“The Line” doesn’t bring much in the way of surprises. If you’ve followed any real-life frat scandals or seen headlines about what goes on behind those closed doors, much of the film will feel familiar. But even with a predictable path, the journey is intense. The film even dips into thriller territory at times, ramping up the drama and tension with brooding, visceral scenes that showcase some solid acting, particularly from Wolff.

Berger’s film feels genuine, from the wardrobe that nails the frat look to the social dynamics that play out on screen. Wolff’s performance anchors the film—he’s convincing as a guy who starts out lost but ends up finding a bit of himself in the chaos. “The Line” isn’t just another frat movie; it’s a candid look at the darker sides of brotherhood and the personal growth that can emerge from facing tough truths.

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