Photo Courtesy of the Sundance Film Festival
A teenage rites-of-passage drama, Arresting Gena vividly captures the tangled confusion of adolescence and ripeness of puberty. Infused with the stultifying heat and raging hormones of a suburban summer, Arresting Gena is a film which bakes slowly rather than scorching fast, scratches gently rather than pushing to excess. Through the alluring characterization of her sixteen-year old protagonist Gena, filmmaker Hannah Weyer carefully translates to the screen a young girl's struggle to understand, to awaken, and to emerge empowered and intact.
In her final year of high school, Gena's life takes an unsettling turn when her single mother is hospitalized and her Uncle John assumes parental custody. Lonely, disconnected, and stifled by her summer job at a beauty salon, Gena bides her time hanging out with the parking-lot gang and the collective of nurturing women attuned to the vulnerability of her circumstances and age. When the brazen, willful Jane arrives in town after running away from a halfway house, Gena instantly hitches herself to Jane's rebellious and dangerous coattails. Drawn in by Jane's tougher world of illicit deals and heightened sexuality, Gena tries to shed her shy composure for the guise of cool maturity. As Jane desperately tries to reestablish ties with her only sibling, Sonny, an ex-felon and drug dealer, Gena falls blindly into perilous straits. When Jane disappears without a trace, Gena descends deeper into the shadows in search of her friend, determined to dislocate her ongoing fears of desertion. Torn between an anguished concern for Jane's welfare and an exhilarating flirtation with one of Sonny's cohorts, Gena journeys toward defining priorities and discovering her own self-determining potential.
Hannah Weyer's skillfully woven narrative communicates with tremendous honesty the alienated angst of teenage girls. Articulating with great finesse the comical banter, shifting allegiances, and cloying interdependence of its young characters, Arresting Gena is a personal saga with universal realism.
- Rebecca Yeldham
Directed by: Hannah Weyer
Written by: Hannah Weyer
Starring: Brendan Sexton III, Aesha Waks, Summer Phoenix, Sam Rockwell, J. Smith-Cameron, Paul Lazar, Kirk Acevedo, Dan Moran
Produced by: Margot Bridger, Ted Hope
Original Music by: Pat Irwin
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