Picks and Pans Review: Puberty Blues

updated 08/01/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/01/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

As the title suggests, this is a movie about adolescence with all the trials, tribulations and skin problems thereof. Though the setting is Australia, the story, directed by Bruce (Breaker Morant) Beresford, still sounds universal. The plot, laconic and slow-paced, centers on two girls coming of age in Sydney, hard by the sea, and it has all the makings of a Gidget remake—the boys and girls hang out on the beach, they drink a lot, smoke dope and have lots of sex. Boy, do they have lots of sex—in the backs of cars, in abandoned houses, just about anywhere, even including beds. Nell Schofield and Jad Capelja play the girls who are desperate for acceptance by a school clique of male surfers and the groupies who hang around watching them ride the waves. Never mind that the two friends are waves above the beach bums in the brains department—they want to belong, and to do it they help some other kids cheat on an exam. It's really quite an innocuous little movie until the end, when Beresford (lately acclaimed for directing Robert Duvall's Tender Mercies) decides to throw a curve or two—one of the girls has a pregnancy crisis, and one of the surfers meets a tragic end. This heavy tone hardly meshes with the froth of the rest of the movie. The picture does prove, however, that the only difference between Californian and Australian surfers is the accent, and that whatever continent you're on, growing up is hard to do, especially when you get to that age where there's nothing more—or less—than sex on your mind. (R)

From Our Partners