The Myth of the American Sleepover (2011) – David Robert Mitchell

A testament to the marriage of tone and subject, David Robert Mitchell’s debut feature, The Myth of the American Sleepover knows its subject and is willing to treat it with the same honesty and earnestness it finds there. A dozen or so high school students oscillate from party to party on the last week of summer break, they talk about kissing (and more) and sometimes actually do some but they’re mainly terrified, sensitive children trying to impress or avoid embarrassment. Many try to say things of poignancy but those moments occur when they don’t say anything at all and sadly the meaning is slightly lost on them. They aren’t stupid to be sure but some things can only be learned with age and it seems Mitchell, as an ex-teenager, gets that. There’s a particularly excellent subplot about a college student back at his hometown and reeling from his recent break-up by deifying two high school aged twins. High school is such a compelling age because it represents the war zone between maturity and chemistry and the way two girls try to balance that storm is fascinating. The movie feels authentic and most importantly avoids to two trends that kill the teenage movie; feeling like an after school special and trying to scare parents. The Myth of the American Teenager is aimless but so is the last week of summer, though nothing “great” happens during the evening, it’s clear that this will be a night remembered for a long time for those involved, if more emotionally than for what actually happened.

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