No matter the decade, being a teen is not easy. Between finding time to be a kid and the frightening prospect of learning to grow up, being on the cusp of adulthood is one of the most intense and frightening times of anyone’s life. Adolescence is a film that tackles the difficultly of being just out of reach of adulthood head on.
Adam (Mickey River) comes from an abusive home and is struggling to find his place in the world. Soon he meets Alice (India Eisley) and his life begins to spiral out of control when she leads him into a life of drug abuse and addition. It is a story of teen angst, peer pressure and self discovery.
Directed by Ashley Avis and starring Mickey River, India Eisley and Romeo Miller with Tommy Flanagan and Jere Burns this is Adolescence.
Teen dramas typically fall into one of two categories, either campy messes that are parodies of teen life or overly dramatic stories that make teen life seem like end-of-the-world events. There are rarely times when filmmakers genuinely capture the look and feel of how it is to be a teen in any given time period but Adolescence does just that. Somehow Director Ashley Avis manages to capture the uncertainly and loneliness of growing up without ever coming across as pandering or silly in any way. She even manages to portray the gritty horrible nature of addiction without ever seeming fake or overly dramatized.
While Avis is a terrific director, much of the quality of this film lies with the actors and this cast is simply wonderful. The adults in the film are portrayed by some fairly well known actors including Tommy Flanagan, Jere Burns, Michael Milford and Elisabeth Rohm each giving the tremendous performances that you would expect from them but it is the ‘teen’ cast that really shines.
Mickey River, who plays Adam, is a stellar actor who proves himself to be a wonderful leading man. Mickey plays a completely believable teen who only wants to escape from his abusive home life and, in his quest for something better, finds himself travelling down the path of a heroin needle at the behest of his new girlfriend Alice. Adam’s decent into addiction and desire is a performance worthy of awards but Mickey is not alone in this journey.
Alice, played by India Eisley, is Mickey’s love who also comes from a deeply broken background that has lead her to a life of sex and drug abuse. Alice comes across as the ultimate black widow, pulling Adam into her web of heroin and other hard drugs banking on his search for love and acceptance. It is immediately clear that she is trouble from the start and, while it is abundantly clear that she is the most negative influence in Adam’s life, you find yourself intrigued by how much further she can pull Adam into her world of self abuse and indulgence.
Rounding out the teen cast is Adam’s best friend Keith played by Romeo Miller. While Miler isn’t the main character he is one of the most memorable for sure. Throughout the film Keith is there for his friend Adam in every way even providing a wonderful support system when Adam and Alice finally hit rock bottom. Miller does an excellent job playing the friend we could only be lucky enough to have in our worst times and is completely believable in his portrayal even though it is pretty obvious he is not a teenager just looking at him.
Outside of the more than excellent cast, this film has a truly wonderful sound track. Between the incredible score by Peter Gregson and the selection of songs each song seems perfectly placed in the film providing a wonderful complement to the story itself.
Interestingly the world of Adolescence feels like an odd throwback to the 90’s as if it took place in a world where grunge never ended and flannel never went out of style. In a way, this aesthetic makes it all that more relatable to someone from Gen X giving us the realization that teens still have a rough life, even in a world full of cell phones and instant communication. I guess Kurt was right, Teenage Angst has paid off well.
The Bottom Line
Adolescence is a wonderfully balanced film that deals with the dark nature of addiction while navigating the difficulties of teenage life, first loves and the fear of the future. With a perfect cast, excellent sound design, and a wonderful director, there is never a moment that feels fake or contrived in any way. This is not my typical film choice when watching for myself, but I am very happy to have had a chance to see Adolescence. It’s a good one, and well worth your time.
Distributed by North of Two, this film is now streaming on Hoopla, DirecTV, AT&T, FlixFling, inDemand, Vimeo on Demand, Amazon, Vudu, iTunes, XBOX, Sony, Google Play, Fandango, Sling/Dish.
Late To The Game 7/2/2019
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