Movie Review: Adolescence
It is unusual for us to review two movies in one week, but we received an opportunity to screen an independent film from TriCoast Entertainment. Titled Adolescence, the film follows a creative teenager whose life is turned upside down when he meets an enigmatic runaway. The film was directed by Ashley Avis, and it was written by Avis, Chris Rossi, Cal Barnes, and Mickey River. Mickey River portrays the main character, Adam, and India Eisley co-stars as the mysterious Alice. The film’s supporting cast also includes Tommy Flanagan as Shepherd, Romeo Miller as Keith, Elisabeth Rohm as Jennette, Michael Milford as Dave, and Jere Burns as Mr. Z. Adolescence is actually being released on various digital platforms such as Amazon, Vudu, iTunes, Google Play, and DirecTV as of today.
The film begins with Adam as a small boy in the car with his younger brother. The two of them are with their mother, who stops to put gas in the car before returning home. While at the gas station, Adam notices his mother being extremely friendly with a guy at the station, and when they get home, he conceals the occurrence from his father. Regardless, his father and mother argue, and it concludes with his father pushing her down. The story then jumps ahead to Adam’s final year in high school. His parents are still together, but the state of their relationship is still in disrepair. Adam skips school with his best friend, Keith, and the two discuss at several points Adam’s inability to pick up girls. Whenever they go to the beach one day, though, Adam meets a mysterious teenager named Alice, which sets his life on a completely different trajectory.
So, as a dark coming-of-age story, Adolescence stays true to its genre. The tone and visuals of the film are intentionally dark, and it is has the slower pacing that typically accompanies a drama. The character of Alice is dark and mysterious, and as one might imagine, she is rarely a good influence on Adam’s life. She pulls him into a bleak world of addiction and abuse, and it’s painful to watch a character journey through that. The character of Adam can come across as a little passive at times, but Mickey River makes him a character you want to see succeed. The dysfunction of his family and his love for his little brother help to establish him as a sympathetic character. Outside of characters and performances, the cinematography is unique. At times shots are intentionally kept in places where you cannot see the characters’ faces, but these shots manage to capture the chaos of the scene. There are several interesting creative choices here, but they fit the overall tone of the film.
The characters are well-conceived overall, but there are a few performances that truly stand out. India Eisley is every bit as magnetic on screen as Adam finds her character in the story. She carries a wounded look through the film that perfectly fits the character, and she excels in this dark, mysterious role. Tommy Flanagan has a supporting role in the film, yet he manages to stand out in every scene. His background is partially explained, but it almost does not have to be. He lets compassion and pain flow through every ounce of his performance, and he contributes heavily to some of the most emotionally satisfying moments in the film.
Adolescence is not the first dark film to see teenagers struggle with dysfunctional families and drug addiction, but it comes across as a raw exploration of those subjects. There are some really great performances here, and the film is appropriately paced. Its greater themes about the way we cope with the hardships of life is a universal one, even if the characters’ actions are not something you as an individual find identifiable. Adolescence does have some great emotional high points, and if you enjoy dark dramas as we do, the film is now available on digital platforms for viewing.
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.