Young & Wild #pff21

2012 Philadelphia Film Festival, Film Criticism, Film Festivals

Sad to say, my Philadelphia Film Festival experience ended on a sour note with Marialy Rivas‘ pretentious and ponderous Young & Wild, about a young girl rebelling against her Evangelical family. Based on a blog (that should have been a warning right there), Young & Wild tries to be daring, showing teenagers engaging in explicit sex acts. But seventeen years after Larry Clark’s Kids, such depictions come across as gratuitous. You can almost feel the director whispering over your shoulder “look what I did. I’m keeping it real.” This salaciousness is offered at the expense of real engagement or character development. Alicia Rodríguez, as Daniela, gives a moody one note performance, half-heartedly playing the misunderstood teenager.

Daniela’s mother is boringly full on devoted to her religion and church. A more nuanced character trying to have a significant relationship with her daughter would have been much more effective. As it stands, it’s difficult to care one way or the other whether or not they achieve any reconciliation.

Worse, the filmmakers can’t seem to decide where they stand in terms of religion. On the one hand, they seem to be mocking the Evangelicals, but, on the other, Daniela is denied any higher ground, being punished at the end for her reckless life and self-reporting that she is lost. It could just be bleakness for art’s sake but it seems more like it’s representing the moral and intellectual depth of a seventeen-year-old blogger.

Young & Wild made me wish that Benjamin Parent‘s charming and funny short the preceded it, It’s Not a Cowboy Movie, lasted another 80 minutes.

Using the festival’s scoring system, I rank Young & Wild as Fair or 2 out of a possible 5.

Check out all my 2012 Philadelphia Film Festival Posts!

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