WHATEVER

6/12/99

It's 1981. The indulgent Seventies are over, having given way to the rebirth of the Fifties. You're a high school senior whose best friend still enjoys all the excesses of the previous decade, and you're getting pretty interested in that scene yourself. You're about to graduate (maybe) and would like to go to art school, if you get accepted, which seems like a long-shot. Meanwhile, your homelife is a mess: no dad around, obnoxious little brother, demi-whore of a mother. You're at the crossroads of your life and you haven't got a clue.

Sounds like a hell of a depressing movie, right? That's what Whatever might have been, but there's a thread of hope running through it. That and a likeable, believeable performance by the actress in the lead role (Anna) save this from being just another teen angst dirge. It's not great: the director doesn't have the skills to pull off the big dramatic scenes. But there are some fine small moments, like when Anna's would-be lover asks her what she's afraid of and she replies "being ordinary." He doesn't know how to reply, though he tries. Her thoughtfulness takes him aback.

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