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Review, by Richard Schwartz

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Whatever begins with Susan Sontag's quote, delivered to Yale graduates: "You may think you've just experienced the most important phase of your life, but you're wrong. The most important experience of your life was high school."

Writer/director Susan Skoog subscribes to this philosophy, investing her laceratingly true portrait of being on the verge of adulthood with unremitting commitment. It is the early 1980s--a last call for sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll (Iggy Pop, David Bowie, the Ramones, Blondie, and Patti Smith are among those on the sound track)--right before "Just Say No" and the realities of AIDS. The film's focus stays clearly on Anna Stockard, sensitively rendered by Liza Weil, who embodies the inchoate state of wearing a tough veneer to cover not only her vulnerability but her dual aspirations: to be an artist, and to explore the burgeoning yearnings of her body. Her first sexual experience, consummated with a pretentious would-be artist, painfully reflects the loveless and unsatisfying nature of such encounters. One of the film's most telling moments comes immediately after, when Anna opts to walk, rather than ride, her ever-present bike home. As she later confides to Brenda, her best friend, "It hurts"--and Weil makes it palpable.

Brenda (Chad Morgan), all flashy bravado and perfect makeup, temporarily brings Anna along on a trip to nowhere with two low-life ex-cons. But not for long. Eventually Anna's back on her bike--heading, one hopes, for both freedom and discovery.

- Robert Hawk

Directed by: Susan Skoog
Written by: Susan Skoog
Starring: Liza Weil, Chad Morgan, Kathryn Rossetter, Frederic Forrest, Gary Wolf, Dan Montano, John G. Connolly
Produced by: Susan Skoog, Ellin Baumel, Kevin Segalla, Michelle Yahn
Original Music by: Walter Salas-Humara

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