16 to Life
September 13, 2010
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Here is an independent film that does it right. From the distribution to the execution of the whole film, it works. One of the few films to escape the circle jerk that is the Iowa Film Tax fiasco, this film truly resonates.
16 to Life stars Hallee Hirsh as Kate, a bookworm turning 16 and has never been kissed. she spends her birthday working at her summer job tending the burger joint down by the marina. Unfolding over the course of a day we are met with vivid characters and situations that seem reasonable and awkward at the same time. Manning the little joint is her friend Darby, a girl whose idea of love isn’t quite right. Rene, the fry cook, is the quirky background character who always close to the action, whether he wants to be or not.
The film circles around Kate wanting her first kiss and the obstacles and opportunities that change the chance that her birthday might be the day. The focus isn’t of a linear nature, the film is more focused on the characters and their reactions to bikers or damaged cell phones (a great moment). Kate meets a boy named Carson and sparks fly right away…or do they. Is this guy going to be her first kiss? Or is this just another day?
The direction of Becky Smith remains true to the environment and its characters. The dialogue rings true and the fantasy sequences of Kate in China (you’ll get it when you see it) really allow us to see how she thinks. Movies sometimes to show us the mind of a teenager and we’re left lost and confused. Megan Fox didn’t look or talk like a teenager in Jennifer’s Body. Here, all the actors feel at home in his or her character’s body. Everything feels authentic.
If you get a chance to see this film, don’t hesitate to go. Touring from theater to theater across the country, the likelihood of seeing the cast or director for a special screening are high. This is a romantic comedy through to its core, but done so independently of the Hollywood clichés and oversimplifications. The film knows you aren’t stupid and therefore is mostly void of “explainers’. Explainers are anytime when a character, narration, or action that explains exactly what happens. Once you notice them they’ll drive you nuts. But not to worry with this film. A brilliant film that leaves you with a nostalgic feeling of young love and that first kiss. 4.5 out of 5 stars.