John Carchietta’s Teenage Cocktail is a surprisingly satisfying small-time endeavour in teenage angst.
At first, Carchietta’s drama seems standard. After moving to a new town and learning to adapt to an unfamiliar high school, Annie (Nichole Bloom of TV’s Superstore) meets an equally-angsty student named Jules (Fabianne Therese). They quickly hit it off, but it’s obvious that Jules’ bohemian personality and absent parental supervision labels her as a questionable influence. Nonetheless, the girls are attached to the hip; sleepovers and partying ensues while sexual experimentation later blooms to a romance.
The two start thinking bigger when life starts becoming too much to handle, as teenagers often do. To raise money for their escape out of California, Jules and Annie option a live-cam streaming service – an activity that started off as flirty, regimented fun.
Carchietta along with Chris Sivertson (All Cheerleaders Die), and Sage Bannick have written an unpredictable screenplay that also glazes over other interesting details. I would’ve liked to know more about local maintenance man, Frank, who gets pulled into Annie and Jules’ world due to his curiosities and perversions. Cheap Thrills’ Pat Healy plays Frank, and it’s an incredible transformation for the actor. The three screenwriters could’ve provided him with a bit more to chew on, but a sequences featuring the girls and Frank lying to each other almost makes up for the thinning character development. Other interesting characters who are also skimmed over are Annie’s likable protective parents (Michelle Borth, Joshua Leonard).
Teenage Cocktail’s appeal stems from its spiralling. It’s inevitable that Annie and Jules sink too deep in greed, but their youthful chemistry and their fearlessness to push the envelope is what makes John Carchietta’s film resonate. It plays as a much tamer version of Larry Clark’s Bully in the sense that Teenage Cocktail – while not as gratuitous or leery – still successfully captures a particular daringness and selfishness that’s purely generational.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie