Lets start with the most obvious thing: if you’re looking at the title and thinking “I missed the theatrical release of this, where can I see it?” you didn’t. This is, however, the first film I’ve seen which really wouldn’t look out of place in a cinema with a general release despite being a film that could be described as a fan film or perhaps the ultimate indy movie: it was written by a couple of people who run a YouTube channel and funded through a Kickstarter campaign. You can rent or buy it through iTunes , Google Play, Vimeo On Demand, Amazon and other places via their site.
With that out of the way, lets talk about the things I normally talk about in a review so you might judge for yourself if you want to see it. OK, I don’t really write these reviews for that, I write them for my pleasure, but if you read them, you can judge for yourself based on this still.
The film is, as you might guess from the title, and can quickly tell from the trailer, a coming of age movie. It looks at two young women, in the final year at university (or college, since they’re in America) who have been best friends since they were seven but are growing apart as they are thinking about entering the world of work. While there are quite a lot of bits that contribute (most of those are not in the trailer, so constitute spoilers) to this the really big one that forms the centre of the film is that one of the characters realises she’s gay but really struggles to come out to the other, coming out to quite a few other people first because it’s easier.
There’s obviously grounds for angst and conflict there, and it’s mined thoroughly but there’s a surprising amount of humour as well. The writers and quite a lot of the cast have been through this themselves but have enough distance from it to write some of it with humour about what were doubtless very embarrassing moments at the time - and it’s usually easy to laugh at someone else’s embarrassment if it’s well presented as comedically as this is. The fact it watches with that sense of truth that having lived through it gives the stories also makes the film run smoothly - this is a clear example where “write what you know” works.
For those of you expecting to perv over nubile young lesbians, you’ll have to watch something else. There are various, short, shots of young women in mostly unflattering sports bras. The only nipples you get to see are on the GBF. Actually, this film would get a PG rating in the UK for the sex, although for the language and drinking it would probably get pulled up to a 12A or maybe just a 15. It’s not OTT but they’re 20-somethings and they drink and swear at times. I suspect US censors would be far stricter - we see two women in bed even if they stay covered up, for example, which seems to get them hot under the collar.
Although this film skews young for me, I was thoroughly entertained by it. I’m not going to say what bits I identified with, what bits I laughed at, what bits I laughed with and what bits I struggled with because I was just never a millennial dating for the first time but there were definitely some of each. Overall, however, I still have no regrets at forking out the money to watch it and I will probably watch it again (a benefit over seeing it at the cinema and there’s nothing that needs that big screen experience here). While it is a coming out and coming of age drama, it blends in the humour and the romance in too (without hitting the rom com structure) that there’s enough there to make me feel I’d enjoy watching it again.
EDIT: Although Almost Adults isn't really a heavy enough hitter to make me think about it too much, as I was having lunch today I realised, despite my previous comments, it is actually a rom com, just not a traditionally structured one. The central romance the comedy is built around is the non-sexual pairing of Mack and Cassie and in typical rom com fashion it follows the (somewhat silly) challenges to their relationship following a sudden change (in this case Mack realising and coming out as gay). It's non-traditional because, of course, both Mack and Cassie have other, romantic and sexual, relationships but the central relationship is certainly one of agape love and it gives you the rom com structure.
A quick technical note: I didn’t really register it at the time but, presumably to save costs, a lot of this was shot as a single camera and single takes - two, three or four actors sitting on a sofa and talking to each other and being shot across the room or similar. It’s well staged and well framed and didn’t look odd to me while I was watching it - it’s quite theatrical and I felt comfortable with that - but having watched more “normal” TV since, which multiple cuts of scenes and switching POV shots over the shoulder of the person being spoken to and the like I suddenly realised it was a little odd compared to the normal film/TV presentation. It wasn’t all like this, and like I said it didn’t register at the time, but quite a lot was and might seem odd to you.
Bechdel test: In a film with two young woman best friends as the leads, one of them coming out as a lesbian, there are lots of conversations between named female characters and lots of them don’t involve talking about men. An easy pass. Actually, given that, there are a surprising number of scenes that don’t pass the Bechdel test individually but, at a rough guess, at least half the scenes do.
Russo test: Well lets see… there’s the lesbian co-star of the film and her girlfriend. So they’re definitely clearly lesbian and core to the story. There is, beyond these two, a GBF to the two best friends who is shown in the trailer. Arguing if two of these three are well characterised beyond “being gay/lesbian” is certainly possible, but Mack is as well developed as you’d expect for a co-star, she’s far from just ‘the lesbian one” so it’s definitely a pass. For what it’s worth, I think her girlfriend passes (she’s better characterised than Cassie’s ex) but I’m on the fence about the GBF. But the film overall clearly passes.
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