Mid90s - This Movie Rocks
Dir: Jonah Hill
Starring Sunny Suljic, Lucas Hedges, Katherine Waterston, Na-kel Smith, Olan Prenatt, Gio Galacia, Ryder McLaughlin
Led by a simply brilliant central performance by young Sunny Suljic, Jonah Hill’s debut as a writer/director is a perfectly honed, deeply felt, very funny and equally moving coming of age movie that can’t help but impress.
When we first meet Suljic’s Stevie, he is being brutally beaten by his thuggish older brother Ian (an unexpected Hedges) in the family hallway. After Ian has gone to school, Stevie breaks into his room – not to vent his frustration and destroy, but to observe and try to absorb and emulate the things that the older brother he still clearly admires and looks up to holds dear. It’s a telling moment that perfectly sets the tone of Hill’s achingly heartfelt movie.
After trading for a skateboard with his older brother however, Stevie is soon out on his own and discovering a whole skate-based world that quickly moves him beyond his somewhat repressed, orange juice-swilling older sibling. In this new world, Stevie is a crap skater at first, but he finds a group of similarly minded – albeit older – friends to hang with, and soon begins to find a sense of himself and his own worth.
It’s a coming of age movie in the truest sense of that phrase, as Stevie comes to terms with family, growing up, girls, drugs, booze and eventually love, largely from his rag-tag bunch of fucked up mates (one of whom is even called “Fuckshit.”)
And it’s with this loser group of outsiders that Hill finds the true heart of his movie. From the young largely unknown actors he casts, Hill draws out note-perfect performances to lend his film an almost documentary feel - something emphasised by one of the group constantly filming their interactions. Why? He wants to be a filmmaker when he grows up – something the others may laugh at. But they never tell him to stop.
There are moments when the film verges on the more conventional – Waterston’s angry mother and a potentially fatal car crash – but thankfully it always pulls away from the threat of such mundane melodrama, and opts to concentrate on the real, and often raw, emotion of his central characters. Backed by a fab score from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross and some to-die-for needle drops from the likes of The Mamas and the Papas and Morrissey, no less.
You could draw comparisons to last year’s Skate Kitchen, or even the recent Oscar nom’d Minding The Gap, but Mid90s (set in the mid 1990s btw) stands on its own as a beautifully observed, subtly underplayed, and yet profoundly emotional movie. All of which leads to a final two minutes that not only lends the film its title, but proves to be joyous. Absolutely joyous.
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