Beyond Clueless: under the skin of the American teen movie

Beyond Clueless is writer/director Charlie Lyne’s visual essay that delves deep into the workings of the American teen movie, dissecting and cross-examining the coming-of-age genre that has gripped the adolescent since the 1990s. The film is a patchwork documentary, sticking together clips from over 200 adolescent movies.

Teens who seek to subvert protocol are immediately suspect…

From the ruling class of jocks and prom queens, to the nerds, geeks, freaks and outcasts of the high school cafeteria system, Lyne explores the elements which have come to form the back-bone of the teen movie. Fairuza Balk (The Craft teen movie icon) narrates the film, drawing on the opposing forces that act upon the teen protagonists of these iconic movies, illustrating the way in which individuals threaten time and again to transcend their social boundaries, disrupting and destroying the regimented cliques and hierarchies of the status quo of high school culture.

The mesmerising original soundtrack score by Summer Camp elevates the film, accompanying the woozy highs and frantic lows of high school life with climatic guitar rifts and all-encompassing sounds. I honestly can’t imagine this visual essay of teen film studies without the soundtrack; Summer Camp’s sounds truly completes the venture (so much so that I immediately opened up the OST on the Spotify app on my bus journey home).

If you like American teen movies and interesting compilations, I strongly urge you to attend one of the remaining showings of the film across independent and Picturehouse cinemas across the UK, or make sure you grab a copy when it’s (hopefully) released on DVD soon.

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