Grace Victoria Cox, Chloe Levine, Sasha Feldman, Mitchell Edwards
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…delivers a strong punch to the guts and will definitely leave a few viewers with tears.
Set in a nameless impoverished town, Savage Youth focuses on the lives of two separate groups of young people living out their existence and trying to figure out their place in the world. The characters, the town and everyone’s situations push this sense of hopelessness, which sucks the viewer into their world and helps you see things from their perspective, even if you can’t relate to them directly.
The central story revolves around two young lovers in a familiar story; shy girl meets bad boy and gets swept up in a whirlwind romance that ultimately leads to a tragic ending. Mix that with a downtrodden bullying victim always yearning to prove himself, a couple of misguided girls experimenting with drugs, a pair of heart of gold drug dealers, with a dash of teen angst and jealousy, and you have a combination destined for disaster.
One of the many things that director Michael Curtis Johnson does well is the realistic portrayal of teens and drug culture. The dialogue and interactions between characters feels authentic and it really helps you get involved in the story. The side-effect is that the film explores socio-economic and racial issues in a terrifyingly raw way. Even the supporting characters feel real.
The location is nameless and could be anywhere; this could be your town, you could know someone like this, or you could even be this person, and that is what makes this film so effectively captivating.
There are moments that genuinely make your skin crawl, which is a hard feat to accomplish today, when audiences are so desensitised. The cinematography (by Magela Crosignani) is a highlight, there are breathtaking sequences set to music and terrific one-shot monologues that go on for minutes. The beautifully composed cinematography is aided by the score (by Jonathon Keeling), which ranges from classical piano to creepy synthesiser tones when appropriate.
This is the second feature from Johnson (following 2016’s SlamDance winner Hunky Dory), who is quickly proving himself to be confident in dealing with gritty subject matter and delivering a raw and entertaining take on it.
Savage Youth delivers a strong punch to the guts and will definitely leave a few viewers with tears.