This lovely, intimate documentary follows a group of reasonably well-to-do Brooklyn teenage girls through high school and into university, from the last gasp of childhood to the borderlands of Real Life. Director Jenny Gage and her cinematographer husband Tom Betterton spent three years in the girls’ company, and their up-close approach works wonders: all the subjects seem completely at ease on camera, perfectly willing to share their hopes, fears, frustrations, secrets, political opinions and snarky put-downs.
Lena starts out as a brace-toothed nerd and ends up a green-haired free spirit holding her family together by sheer force of will. Her best friend Ginger is helplessly self-conscious and increasingly bitter. Their classmate Olivia is beginning to question her sexual direction. And so it goes. Throughout, we’re given a crystal clear sense of the lines these young women walk: between being constantly judged and totally ignored; between wanting freedom and fearing responsibility; between knowing you’re the coolest thing alive and being convinced you’re worthless. The hazy, sun-kissed camerawork is gorgeous, too.