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Review: Teenage Kicks – “A sensitive and fresh take on the coming of age tale”

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Teenage Kicks is the debut feature from short filmmaker Craig Boreham. The Australian film is a great coming of age story that kept me hooked until the very end.

In the summer of his 17th birthday, Mik Vagas’s world has come tumbling down. His plan to run away and escape the hold of his migrant family has been brutally undone by the unexpected death of his older brother, Tomi. Only Mik knows the events that led to the tragedy and as far as he can see there is only one person to blame. Himself.
He is suddenly torn between his desire to start a new life with his best friend Dan and the obligation to his broken family. Can he fill the shoes of his adored sibling or is he toxic and destined to bring ruin upon everyone he loves.

We follow 17-year-old Miklós (Miles Szanto) as he deals with the loss and grief he feels about the death of his brother and comes to terms with his sexuality. He is much too young to deal with everything that life throws at him, but there is nothing else he can do. He tries his best, but as we all know, being a teenager is a confusing time. As tensions rise, rash decisions can be made.

Through the haze of his grief, Mik stumbles from one relationship to another. One with his late brother’s pregnant girlfriend (Shari Sebbens), both helps and hinders his development. Realising he is gay leads him into various encounters with strangers and his own best friend, Dan (Daniel Webber). The fact that Dan also has a new girlfriend, played by Charlotte Best, complicates matters all the more.

The basic story does follow the general beats of the coming of age narrative, but it is all done in such a strong, visually striking manner, that it doesn’t matter. You are pulled along with Mik’s journey and feel his stress and confusion as events build around him. Miles Szanto and Daniel Webber give brilliant performances and are aided by a great supporting cast. Yet this is Szanto’s film. His performance is superb and also trick as the character he plays is often out of control and out of his depth. He manages to convey so many emotions just with a glance or by the way he stands.

The film itself is extremely well made. The cinematography from Bonnie Elliott is beautiful, solid editing from Adrian Chiarella, and the direction is fantastic and Boreham is definitely one to watch.

It does deal with some dark emotions and at times can be a difficult watch, but that just makes the moments of happiness light up the screen.

A sensitive and fresh take on the coming of age tale.

Teenage Kicks is out in the UK on DVD from 23rd October 2017.

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