While being born in the 90s, I always considered myself a 2000s kid. One of my earliest memories is seeing the millennium come in, and all my experiences of adolescence came through the 10 years that followed. One discovery was my love of film, much like our impressive lead Sunny Suljic who play’s Stevie. My obsession became cinema and his, skateboarding.
The film follows 13-year-old Stevie in the summer heat of LA. We watch his journey as a lonely and troubled boy through many experiences he would never forget, and a group of friends he’ll never be able to.
Hill chose to shoot the film on 16mm in a 4:3 ratio, similar to other recent releases such as “A Ghost Story” and “Mommy”. It leads itself well here, firmly placing itself within the time and place of the narrative and often feeling like home video with immense nostalgic value. And nostalgia is the glue that holds this film together.
The direction here has been done with such authentic honesty and emotional resonance that it feels true to life. Every aspect from the aforementioned cinematography, to the 90s soundtrack and the completely naturalistic performances from a range of talented young actors, that you can see Hill is coming from a personal place.
Hill clearly wears his influences on his sleeve, and while the story of a boy becoming a man is something we have seen many times before, this is told in such a tight and effective manner it feels fresh and original. In fact, the film never indulges in itself, with a fast 85 minute runtime; it’s over all too soon.
This directorial debut is an impressive first outing. It can often go one of two ways when an actor decides to head behind the camera, but this shows a lot of promise and talent. It will be exciting to continue to watch Jonah Hill explore new narratives and build off this great foundation.