For Reel

The Myth of the American Sleepover (2010)
December 19, 2011, 4:04 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: David Robert Mitchell

In deconstructing, as the title asserts, The Myth of the American Sleepover, first-time director David Robert Mitchell doesn’t arrive at naturalism, but at a sort of mystic emotional truth about what it is to be a teenager. In his review of the film, A.O. Scott suggests that the picture articulates the, “mixture of sophistication and naïveté that is central to the modern American teenage way of being in the world.” Indeed, the teenagers here are confused in the way that they approach love and lust, not at all comfortable in their own skin and, although horny, perhaps not as sexually-driven as, for instance, the protagonists of Superbad. Like Putty Hill, another stand-out independent film from this past year, Mitchell’s characters, taken on their own, don’t necessarily feel specific enough to reflect anyone that we may have known in high school, but as a collective they create a community that seems, in some, undefinable way, wholly recognizable. In fact, in dispelling the myths of teen pictures like Dazed and Confused or American Graffiti, Mitchell creates a myth of his own that feels true to the high school experience – the “super market girl” becomes a figure of worship, so far removed from objective authenticity that we begin to approach her just as her admirer does, without condescension and feeling the grandeur of the stakes when they finally confront. In granting his characters tremendous emotional complexity without losing sight of their endearing innocence, Mitchell’s take on this oft-treaded ground feels entirely fresh.

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