CATEGORIES Documentary, Independent, Sundance, Festival Reports, Sundance Film Festival, CinematicalSeveral other critics and I were chatting yesterday about how, so far, the festival has been only so-so. We all liked several things a lot, but we hadn't totally loved anything. Like optimistic youths, we were eager to fall in love. But when would the right film come along?
For me, it happened last night, when I saw American Teen. I'd heard good things about it, but the description in the festival guide didn't really interest me. Knowing it had been picked up by Paramount Vantage, and that so many people liked it, I thought I'd give it a try. But even as I took a seat in the Yarrow screening room just before 10 p.m. last night, I was considering changing my mind and going back to the hotel instead.
I'm so glad I stayed. It's absolutely my favorite movie of the festival. It's a documentary that follows a handful of teenagers during their senior year in high school in Warsaw, Indiana. That format invites comparison to TV "reality" shows like Laguna Beach -- except that these kids are real people, with all the flawed decisions, enthusiasm, emotional meltdowns and melodrama of real teenagers.
The film captures all the drama of these kids' lives, and it's as touching and funny and -- above all -- hopeful as anything I've seen in a while. And so my festival is not a bust after all! I have found love.