Jonah Hill reminisces over his skater boy days in his magnetic directorial debut Mid90s. A movie that does exactly what it says on the tin, this coming of age drama takes place in - well - the mid 1990s. The semi-autobiographical tale which holds a likeness to Greta Gerwig's recent debut Lady Bird, follows thirteen year old Stevie during his summer break. In the thick of a troubled home life he is befriended by a group of guys outside the Motor Avenue skate shop.
Like a beginner landing his first kick flip, Hill teases at a great deal of tricks to come. This skateboarding story flaunts a magnificent documentary style of filmmaking, the like of which we have seen a lot recently. Nevertheless, Hill permeates his own personal vision in Mid90s, redesigning contemporary techniques with quirky stickers and a fresh set of wheels. There is an interesting mix of humour and emotion with the more dramatic moments cutting you off in the least expected places. The grinding sound of skateboards rolling against coarse concrete almost seems silent compared to the ear-bleeding screams of Stevie's household - Mid90s pinpoints each characters' liberation as they break away from their personal demons. Hill very much emphasises the skater life as a freeing lifestyle, whilst simultaneously marrying that with angsty teen bits.
Stevie's gang - who are clearly far too cool and unrestrained to have a name - lark around on private property, bond in the sun-dappled skate shop, drink and smoke themselves silly, but most importantly they have fun whilst doing it. With gorgeously textured cinematography at play here - Mid90s is a visual gold mine. Shot in 16mm, the film is nostalgic of the camcorder technology that was available in that era.
With new directing talent on the rise also come new stars. Stevie has a lot on his plate and Sunny Suljic carries it off effortlessly; there are a lot of temper tantrums and intense scenes of self-harm that would be tricky for any actor to take on. Suljic is remarkable, underpinning that gradual loss of innocence and the desperation for a normal lifestyle. Katherine Waterson and Lucas Hedges make appearances as Stevie's dysfunctional mother and brother, but it's his skater pals that really shine. Their characters are distinct and reasonably well-rounded, different enough to create an intriguing dynamic for Stevie to learn from.
Hill has infused his so-far career as a comic actor with gritty personal experience, delivering a new and interesting vision for us film fanatics to digest. Mid90s is ridiculously nostalgic with artists like 2Pac and N.W.A comprising the backdrop of this energetic feature. But much more than that, Mid90s is another excellent coming-of-age flick that's definitely out on its own.
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Hi I’m James - a huge welcome to my film blog! I started this site just after my 14th birthday and have been bringing you my own take on the hottest box office arrivals and many art house triumphs ever since.