The Myth of the American Sleepover (15)


Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Like Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused, David Robert Mitchell's feature debut follows a group of teenagers during a single summer night.

But where Linklater's film was a raucous, school's-out affair, this is a more considered, reticent picture of kids drifting through their suburban (Detroit) neighbourhood and only dreaming of what might be.

Rob (Marlon Mortin) catches a glimpse of a blond heartbreaker in a supermarket aisle, his reverie broken by a tannoy voice announcing that his mother's waiting for him at the checkout. Maggie (Claire Sloma) fancies the swimming-pool attendant and is brave enough to do a Ginger Rogers routine at a party to impress him.

Scott (Brett Jacobsen) is a college boy returning home and yearning over a high school photograph of himself with the twin sisters with whom he used to hang around. Mitchell's great forte is mood, achieved almost through an absence of the usual teen standards: no Facebook, no texting, no cries of "loser" or "whatever", not even a fight.

This is a night of sidelong glances, wistful gazes, a few beers and a tender kiss here and there; these teenagers are more watchful, more chaste, almost more respectful, than Hollywood's amped-up version of the breed. Perhaps a little more drama wouldn't have gone amiss, but then eventlessness is part of its purpose. This is teenage as an American Truffaut would see it, with a woozy charm reminiscent of Sofia Coppola's The Virgin Suicides.