“Mid90s” review

“Mid90s” is the directorial debut of Jonah Hill, who is known for acting in films such as “Superbad,” “21 Jump Street” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.” With this, he steps behind the camera to create a simple dramatic experience that is meant to evoke feelings of nostalgia and belonging. Being a low-budget independent film, this contains no special effects, no elaborate set-pieces or major stars.

The film stars 13-year old Sunny Suljic as the main character, Stevie, who spends his days either alone or being mistreated by his older brother Ian. One day, he meets a group of older kids at the local skate shop and begins to grow close to them. The plot is as simple as that, and it is through this basic scenario that the main character’s relationships and experiences are allowed to play out for the audience’s interpretation.

I neither hated nor loved this film. The cinematography and performances are competent to impressive. For being a first time director, Hill was able to accomplish a film skillful enough to be construed as being made by someone more experienced. He captures reality in the way that kids talk like they really do and in the fact that there are questionable motives and dilemmas in real life.

Despite being a good film in concept, this film bothered me. As the story progresses, Stevie goes down the rabbit-hole of underage sex and drugs that his friends drag him into. He begins to smoke weed and drink alcohol before also having a sexual experience with a girl much older than him.

Other than facing the wrath of his mom when she finds out, Stevie never faces any kind of consequence or personal turmoil. Instead, his older friends cheer him on, and the film ends without any kind of arc or catharsis. I couldn’t tell what Hill was trying to get across by ending the film this way. I suppose this decision was not a flaw with the film, but rather a detail that got under my skin. All that being said, this was a unique film that I recommend you see, as the story might resonate differently for other viewers.