Challenging the idea of what it is to be a man, and what makes a man, the feature quickly becomes powerfully layered
Calling Mid90s a coming of age film is perhaps a little misleading. It offers a journey taken by many as they begin to come of age, but it’s arc is very different from that of the classic tale, and leads Stevie (Sunny Suljic) down a path of unpredictability and authenticity.
Beginning to discover his own identity, young Stevie is attracted to a group of boys running a local skate shop in Los Angeles. Taken under their wing, 13-year-old Stevie is stunned by their brashness and their strange support for each other. Determined to become just like them, Stevie is led down a path his increasingly-distant mother takes a distaste for, while beginning to fight back against his aggressive older brother.
Writer/Director Jonah Hill has suggested all of the character’s inside Mid90s are complex creations of his own, and not part of a wider basis on his own life, but there has to be something of him within the film with its authenticity seeming as genuine as it does. This is ultimately a film with heart and a reality that feels completely immersive.
As one of its surefire qualities, Mid90s is brilliant at offering a decisive view of the Los Angeles skate scene in the 90s. There’s an understanding of how it impacted those involved, and what it meant for them as young people. Mid90s may be about a group of boys, but it is absolutely about offering insight into how its possible to understand what kind of men these young boys will grow up to be. From their reactions to their actions, and their outward demeanour, Mid90s understands what its like to be a man and how that differs for each and every one of them, despite them seeming similar and unified to any outsider.
Rooted in staying positive and progressive, Hill has made Mid90s a beautifully shot picture with undeniable charm, despite its strong adult themes. It’s about exposing a young boy to themes and ideas a ‘normal’ society simply wouldn’t allow. Challenging the idea of what it is to be a man, and what makes a man, the feature quickly becomes powerfully layered, despite its outwardly skate heavy image.
Lead by a wonderful performance from young Sunny Suljic, there’s an incredible affinity for building character cast into Mid90s core, and that goes a long way to projecting its affectionate and nostalgic feel. It’s wonderfully funny, uniquely edited and realistically acted, becoming a film with so much to say, and so much to show. It can be viewed solely as a picture, with a story to tell, but it’s deeper understanding of manhood and where that comes from is what makes Mid90s the wonder that it is.
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