American Teen

The previews for this documentary made it seem like a stagey, reality-show version of a John Hughes movie. In fact, it’s a painful and gripping look at the lives of a half-dozen teenagers who defy stereotypes and speak in natural rhythms that are at once embarrassing, hilarious and tragic. Even the town where the film is shot, a little Indiana hamlet of 13,000 people, rises above its station and becomes as complex and weird as the biggest city in medieval Asia. The strangest sequences have the filmmakers shooting as girls lie to their boyfriends, teens vandalize each other’s houses, and a party turns into a drama-fest with face-slapping (staged?) and illicit snuggling. It’s definitely worth a look if you want to see what one tiny corner of America looks like through the eyes of the Midwestern video-deity of teenagerhood.

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