SXSW FILM FESTIVAL

SXSW Review: American Teen

by
March 12, 2008

  • US Release Date: July 25, 2008
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Running Time: 95 minutes
  • Directed by: Nanette Burstein
  • on IMDb
  •    8.5/10

Another great documentary, but this is actually the best one I've seen since being at SXSW. The film has gotten a lot of buzz since playing at Sundance and now here at SXSW. Alex, along with the guys from SlashFilm and Film School Rejects had already seen it but decided that they loved it so much that they were going to see it again with me. A great film mixed in with my first time at the famous Alamo Drafthouse made this a very memorable experience.

American Teen cuts a small slice out of the lives of four students during their senior year of high school. Hannah Bailey is the average well-liked but quirky girl who dreams of leaving her small town and moving to California to go to film school. Colin Clemens is the basketball star who won't be able to afford college and feels the pressure to perform at the level required by the college recruiters. Jake Tusing is the nerdy guy who spends his high school life virtually unnoticed while he plays video games and longs for a girlfriend. Lastly we follow Megan Krizmanich, the popular pretty girl who is wealthy, stuck-up and seems to have a desire to better herself, though never makes much of an attempt.

This is definitely a documentary that the MTV crowd could get into and relate to. I don't know if I'm just too old and detached from what is going in high schools nowadays but I couldn't relate to their situations. Even though I feel like I couldn't relate on a personal level, I felt that the director did a great job of making me care about what each character was going through and feeling. Each of them shared a desire to better their current situations through moving, getting into a certain college, or just finding a companion.

Even though the feeling I got in the beginning was like I was watching "Laguna Beach" or "The Hills", I have to admit that feeling left very quickly and it turned into a solid, very well done documentary. Great characters, interesting situations and excellent animations transform this from your average doc to an outstanding one. This is without a doubt the best documentary of SXSW so far and one that everyone should check out as soon as they have a chance.

American Teen

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