A celebration of adolescence in all its acne-ridden, rebellious glory, Matt Wolf’s Teenage (based on Jon Savage’s 2007 book of the same name) is a compelling joyride through the evolution of the teenager as we know it. If, as the film proclaims, “adolescence is a new birth”, Wolf charts the phenomenon from its embryonic stages in Victorian England through two world wars and political and economic turmoil even to the delivery room in the early 1950s.
Underscored by Bradford Cox’s (Deerhunter, Atlas Sound ) minimalist jangle, Wolf crafts an intricate bricolage of rare archival footage, recreated Super 8 film and real-life excerpts from four young diarists (Ben Whishaw, Jena Malone, Julia Hummer and Jessie Usher). These nostalgic reconstructions are inventive – though at times they can feel a little incongruous – appearing unannounced amidst a whirligig of crowds, bedrooms, schoolyards and battlefields.
Wolf’s focus on this transformative period is a riotous call to arms: explore these years and have freedom to have fun “before you get old.”