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USA 2010
Directed by
David Robert Mitchell
96 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Chris Thompson
4 stars

The Myth Of The American Sleepover

Synopsis: Four young people – Maggie (Claire Sloma), Rob (Marlon Morton), Claudia (Amanda Bauer) and Scott (Brett Jacobsen) – spend the last weekend of a suburban Detroit summer moving between three different sleepovers looking for fun, love, and meaning in their lives as they begin the transition into young adulthood.

In the opening scenes of David Robert Mitchell’s first feature, Maggie tells her friend Beth (Annette DeNoyer) that she thinks she might have wasted her summer; that she should have had more fun. As she does, she steals two beers from an open esky and checks out the pool boy, Steven (Douglas Deidrich) and the scene is set for this sweet and insightful glimpse into the lives of a group of middle class American teenagers. What’s interesting about this film is its fresh take on the genre, with the relative absence of raging hormones and sexual pursuits in favour of characters who are more meditative and thoughtful as they consider their identities, their relationships and their futures.

With echoes of George Lucas’ 1973 classic, American Graffiti (including the hunt for the illusive blonde),Mitchell’s take is not so exclusively-male oriented and feels more comic than comedic with its exploration of the interior lives and concerns of these well-drawn and often intriguing characters. And like the Lucas film, Mitchell has gathered together an outstanding cast of young actors whose performances carry a maturity beyond their years.

This is a gentle, easy film that meanders from story to story in a seemingly random pattern that mirrors the way the characters move from sleepover to party to secluded private moments.  But the assuredness of the direction, the sharpness of character and the authenticity of the screenplay (also written by the director) points to anything but a random vision behind the camera. This is a film that well deserves to take a place of honour amongst the myriad coming-of-age movies and introduces us to a filmmaker whom we would be wise to keep our eye on.




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