So what’s your favorite flavor of teen angst? Do you prefer the desperate yearning for experience that’s the stock-in-trade of straight arrows like Alexa (Rossum), who isn’t above [Gasp] putting a streak in her hair? (Deflowerment, naturally, is right around the corner.) Maybe you go for brooding rich-boy ennui; might we interest you in Johnny (Gilford), an aristo-jock who’s surprisingly receptive to a same-sex poolside BJ? What about the depressed-and-repressed variety, courtesy of Ben (Springer)—a twitchy misfit who’s so confused, conflicted and caught up in his own ambiguous desires that he could have stepped out of a Smiths song? There’s no need to choose one, however, as Adam Salky’s high-school soap offers a virtual Spumoni of caricatured adolescent hand-wringing. When subtlety equals a drama-class performance of A Streetcar Named Desire’s rape scene, expect a bumpy ride.
There’s one bright spot amid all the awkward groping and abundant onscreen texting, and his name is Zach Gilford. Fans of TV’s Friday Night Lights already know that the actor can play petulant and mumbly, but as he proves here, there’s a vast range of young-adult sensitivity that he’s able to communicate with amazing grace. Gilford plays the character like a walking emotional bruise; the rest of the cast either can’t compete or simply don’t dare to.