Teenage Kicks (2016) – Film Review
Director: Craig Boreham
Cast: Miles Szanto, Daniel Webber, Charlotte Best
by Sarah Morgan
Australia has been a fertile breeding ground for film-makers for many a moon, perhaps helped by a wealth of acting talent capable of breathing life into their stories.
Yes, we may mock the nation’s silly soap operas, but Neighbours and Home and Away have developed lots of young talent over the years who have gone on to bigger and better things, including the likes of Russell Crowe, Chris Hemsworth and Margot Robbie.
Another former Summer Bay resident features in writer-director Craig Boreham’s impressive coming of age drama. Daniel Webber played stalker Ryan Kelly in the soap a few years back, then travelled to the US to play Lee Harvey Oswald in the TV adaptation of Stephen King’s time-hopping tale 11.22.63; it seems that he, too, is destined for big things in Hollywood.
However, he’s back on home soil here, starring alongside Miles Szanto, an unknown face who on this showing at least has all the skills to pay the bills – he’s a good looking young man who holds the entire story together with a fine performance as the troubled Mik.
Teens whose hormones are in overdrive are not exactly uncommon in the movie world, but few can have caused quite so much pain and tragedy as those depicted here. After inadvertently causing the death of his beloved half-brother Tommy, Mik’s life spirals out of control.
He’s the result of an affair between his mother and his uncle, and feels that the man who raised him resents his presence, and will never see him in the same light as Tommy; Mik feels like a spare part who doesn’t really belong. To make matters worse, he’s in love with his best friend Dan, a passion that is unrequited, is confused about his burgeoning sexuality and feels responsible for Tommy’s pregnant girlfriend.
After taking out his frustrations on a classmate, he’s expelled from school. Then, huge rows with just about everyone he knows prompts him to take to the streets, where he falls in with a trio who dabble in drugs and online pornography.
Can Mik’s life be brought back from the brink? There’s more trauma on the way before a satisfying resolution.
Boreham deserves plaudits for bringing to screen a compelling story of teen angst writ large; this is a study in guilt, familial relationships, love and redemption all wrapped up in a heady cocktail of hormonal strife.
And if superstardom doesn’t happen for its two young stars, then there really is no justice.
‘Teenage Kicks’ is out now on DVD