Tribeca Breakdown: "Teenage"

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Actors Jena Malone, Ben Whishaw, Julia Hummer and Jessie Usher narrate director Matt Wolf's third feature documentary, which is essentially a detailed history of the origins of the teenager, stemming from youth movements at the turn of the century. Based on a groundbreaking book by the punk author Jon Savage.
2.5

Director Matt Wolf dives into the modern phenomenon knows as teenagers, in this documentary based on the acclaimed book by Jon Savage.

'Teenage' chronicles the origins of teenagers launching a historical investigation into what it means to be a teenager, and how this period
of prolonged adolescence came into existence. Starting with the Industrial Revolution, the film uses archival footage, imagined recreation, and first person narrative to take the audience through periods of flappers, Swing Kids, Nazi Youth, and lesser known Sub-Debs.

The film is interesting and artfully crafted, although at times a bit dry. There are plenty of facts, and the imagery is pleasant, but the deeper insights are noticeably lacking.

Director Matt Wolf essentially divides the film into 3 intertwining stories: America, England, and most prevalent Germany. While these narratives are all worthy in their own right, the film never widens it's lens to address a global perspective, leaving the overall experience feeling rather narrow in focus.

Overall, 'Teenage' uses interesting footage to tell an intriguing story, but does little beyond that to create anything visually, emotionally or intellectually wonderful.