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Bloor Cinema Release: Teenage

May 9, 2014

By John Corrado

Teenage Poster

After premiering at the festival back in 2013, Teenage is opening today for a short run at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, and will be playing throughout the week until May 15th. Tickets can be found right here.

Directed by Matt Wolf, Teenage mixes archival footage and grainy reenactments to chart the evolution of youth culture during the first half of the 20th century, from the abolishment of child labour in 1904 to the end of World War II. Based on Jon Savage’s acclaimed book Teenage: The Creation of Youth Culture, the film looks at the generation of kids that no longer automatically became adults, when a new subgroup of society was created.

Whether they were called flappers, hooligans or jitterbugs, this was a revolution that took off with the freewheeling 1920s, before the Great Depression shook the world and ideas of adolescence changed yet again during World War II. These teenagers were ready to leave childhood behind, but weren’t mature enough to face the realities of the adult world, and they succeeded by reshaping society and creating the youth culture that has now become normal, leading to integration and sexual liberation.

Although not as propulsive as this year’s Beyond Clueless, a stylistically similar study of modern high school movies, Teenage is a good and well researched visual essay. Through seamless editing, along with solid voiceover narration from Jena Malone and Jessie Usher playing the part of American youth and Ben Whishaw and Julia Hummer giving voice to a British boy and German girl, this is a nicely structured and often engaging film. With good music by Bradford Cox, Teenage is an informative and entertaining history lesson that is worth checking out during this brief theatrical run.

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