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Movie Review: Only The Young

February 8, 2013

Only The Young PosterOnly The Young – A KinoSmith Release

Release Date: February 8th, 2013 @ Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

Rated PG for mature themes and language

Running time: 72 minutes

Elizabeth Mims (dir.)

Jason Tippet (dir.)

Garrison Saenz as Himself

Kevin Conway as Himself

Skye Elmore as Herself

Kristen Cheriegate as Herself

Robin Levy as Himself

Only The Young

©KinoSmith.  All Rights Reserved.

Garrison Saenz and Kevin Conway in Only The Young.

Our reviews below:


Only The Young Review By John C.

**** (out of 4)

I’ve often said that the best coming of age films are the ones that capture a feeling and a moment in time, something universally relatable about growing up.  All these things are true about the great documentary Only The Young, a personal favourite from last year’s Hot Docs.  This is already one of the best movies of 2013, a touching portrait of adolescence that only grows more resonant after a second viewing.

Growing up in a small desert town in Southern California, teenagers Garrison Saenz and Kevin Conway spend their days skateboarding and hanging out at an old abandoned house.  Their friend Skye Elmore is facing foreclosure on her home, and the three teens share their dreams for a bright future, while coming to terms with some of their deepest fears.  Amidst the heartbreak of first love that comes in their last summer before graduation, the film offers a candid portrait of these teenagers on the cusp of adulthood, as they struggle with universally relatable questions of where their lives will take them.

The young directors Jason Tippet and Elizabeth Mims have crafted a touching and beautifully shot film that allows us to care about each of the subjects, before a genuinely moving final scene.  Garrison is a likeable personality, filled with teenage vulnerability.  Kevin is the more hyperactive of the two, but there is also a genuine sensitivity beneath his outward personality, and we get the sense that these two friends would feel lost without each other.  In many ways, Skye has the most heartbreaking story, as her father is in jail and she struggles with potentially having to leave the house where she grew up.  But no matter what, we hope they are all going to be okay, regardless of where their lives take them.

After a second viewing, I’ve come to further appreciate just how perfectly constructed Only The Young really is.  From the excellent soundtrack to the emotional beats of the story, this is a beautifully done narrative documentary that continues to resonate.  There is a casually entertaining vibe to the scenes of the characters just hanging out and having fun, and the moments when they bare their souls to the camera are deeply moving and entirely relatable, perfectly capturing all of the genuine heartache that can come with growing up.  The three teens become real to us throughout the documentary, and we really become invested in their friendship.

From beginning to end, Only The Young is a documentary that is far too honest and heartfelt to feel mundane, perfectly capturing the moment in time when every teenager faces graduation and the final stretch of adolescence.  This is a small gem that deserves my highest recommendation.


Only The Young Review by Erin V.  

***1/2 (out of 4)

Only The Young is a film I first discovered at Hot Docs in Toronto last year.  It tells the story of three teens in a small desert town in Southern California – Kevin, Garrison, and Skye.  They frequent abandoned houses and golf courses, and the two guys spend a lot of their time at the local skate parks among other things.  As the film explores their hopes, fears, and romantic interests, it provides a look into coming-of-age in small town America.

The film is a documentary, but it feels like it could just as easily be a fictional indie film.  By this, I mean that it is so character driven, and the storylines are relatable and real, providing us this perfect look into these three kids’ lives.  We become invested in the turns in their story, and from opening shot to a perfect closing scene, Only The Young captures something not often captured, that moment between childhood and adulthood that we can all relate to.


Only The Young Review by Nicole

***1/2 (out of 4)

Only The Young follows the lives of three teenagers in a small town in the Southern United States.  The documentary focuses on Garrison and his skater buddy Kevin, a hyperactive yet vulnerable boy who relies on Garrison for support.  Meanwhile, Garrison’s friend Skye is sorting out the dynamics of her broken family, who are at risk of losing their home.

Despite the hardships these young people face, their lives are held together in both friendship and a strong Christian faith.  While Only The Young shows us financial poverty, the documentary beautifully captures a sense of youthful innocence.  The youth in this film are still young enough to go out trick or treating, yet they are thinking about their future one moment, and engaging in risky skateboard tricks the next.  The fears and concerns of these teens are real, yet they don’t stop them from living in the moment and enjoying their youth.

Only The Young is a flawless film.  All the people are likeable, and one really gets invested in their lives.  The soundtrack adds yet another nice element to the documentary.  Only The Young has the feel of a John Hughes film, as it balances the concerns and joys of adolescence.  I would definitely recommend this one to both youth and the young at heart alike.


Only The Young Review by Maureen

***1/2 (out of 4)

Directors Jason Tippet and Elizabeth Mims’ documentary Only The Young wonderfully captures the balance of hope and fear, innocence and emerging maturity that define the transition from youth to young adult.

Set in a small town in the United States, Only The Young follows two high school skateboarding best friends, Garrison and Kevin, and their best gal pal Skye.  It’s obvious that none of their lives are perfect.  Poverty is all around them and their futures in the small town are uncertain.  Skye’s home life is less than ideal, though throughout it all she tries to remain positive.  Garrison and Kevin have their skateboarding dreams and a bond that’s been there since elementary school.  Both guys like Skye.  Yet the trio have each other’s backs and share the same Christian faith that seems to keep them all grounded.

The dialogue between these three ordinary young people is honest, funny and at times heartbreaking.  Over a period of several months, we watch them change and grow, and by the end we really care what happens to the three friends.

Backed by a really good soundtrack, the documentary flows nicely and is a real pleasure to watch.  I love the mood the directors have created, and can see a follow up film to check in on how Garrison, Kevin and Skye are doing making sense.  Only The Young is worth checking out.


Only The Young Review by Tony

*** (out of 4)

Only The Young is a documentary that follows several teenagers in a depressed small inland California town over a period of several months. Unlike the characters in a typical teen comedy, none of them is particularly witty or flawed. They are all in fact quite decent and often awkward which is much more real.

What is remarkable is how open they all are about their problems and feelings shared with the sensitive filmmakers Elizabeth Mims and Jason Tippet. Only The Young is highly recommended for adolescents and the rest of us alike.


Consensus: Directed with sensitivity by Jason Tippet and Elizabeth Mims, the beautifully filmed Only The Young follows a trio of teenage friends in their final stage of adolescence, providing a relatable and deeply heartfelt look at growing up.  ***1/2 (Out of 4)

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