Best of The Fests: Mid90s
Film festival season continues, which means we will continue to look at some other films that made waves at different festivals last year. Today we continue with a look at Jonah Hill’s directorial debut, Mid90s. In addition to directing the film, Hill also wrote the script for the coming-of-age story. It stars Sunny Suljic as the 13-year-old lead, Stevie, and Lucas Hedges plays his older brother, Ian. The film also contains performances from Na-Kel Smith, Olan Prenatt, Katherine Waterston, Gio Galicia, Ryder McLaughlin, and Alexa Demie. Hill’s feature debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 9, 2018, and it later received a few nominations for both acting and directing.
So, what made this one a favorite among critics?
Sense of Nostalgia
Perhaps the most notable aspect of Mid90s is the sense of nostalgia it exudes. From the music and cinematography to the wardrobe choices, this film looks like it was actually shot in the 1990’s. Every detail perfectly captures the skateboarding culture and the more carefree summers of that time period. It has sweeping shots of Los Angeles streets, and it has more than a few story beats about finding somewhere to belong that everyone can identify with.
Defies Genre Norms
Hill takes a different approach from the typical dramatic coming-of-age story progression and takes things slowly in the life of Stevie. The character has a strained home life, and it becomes clear early in the film that he longs for friendships. He pursues skateboarding because of the guys he meets, and if this were a mainstream story, he would be exceptionally good at skateboarding by the end of the movie. However, that is never the intention of the film; instead, we get a bumpy story about the highs and lows of different friendships and a kid who desperately craves that in his life. The film is made all the better by the fact that Stevie goes from unable to ride a skateboard at the beginning of the movie to being able to ride it but unable to perform hardly a single trick at the end.
It’s kind of strange for a film that is not a musical to have its music stand out so prominently, but the score and additional tracks chosen give the film its nostalgic, authentic feel. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross provide four tracks that capture every emotion of childhood and provide the perfect backdrop to Stevie’s experiences riding his skateboard around Los Angeles. The music is warm, and it pairs well with the variety of 1990’s songs that Hill chose to include. Songs from The Pixies, Morrissey, Nirvana, and a variety of hip hop songs all accent the story and add an additional layer to the events of Stevie’s childhood.
At the end of the day, Mid90s is a solid directorial debut for Hill and a unique viewing experience. Suljic is a charismatic lead, and the musical choices completely personify the skateboard culture prevalent in the 1990s.
So, have you ever watched Mid90s? Did you find it as nostalgic and intriguing as critics did coming out of TIFF?
Comment, and let us know! And stay tuned next week as we explore one last favorite from last year’s festival circuit.
Mollie is a film enthusiast, aspiring writer/screenwriter, and a lover of all things Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Doctor Who. She is the co-founder of The Digital Shore (@thedigitalshore) and Above The Line (@atl_movies). You can follow her many adventures through Twitter and Instagram at @mcbeach.