Picks and Pans Review: Whatever
Liza Weil, Chad Morgan
Whatever, a small movie about a smart but slightly lost high school senior, perfectly captures that confused period when one teeters on the cusp of adulthood. Anna (Weil, who herself teeters between pretty and plain and couldn't be better), is a talented artist growing up in a backwater New Jersey town in the early 1980s. At home, she stays in her room, playing music, smoking dope and avoiding her bratty little brother and nagging single mom (Kathryn Rossiter), a woman so beaten down that she counsels her daughter, "Don't expect so much. It's a little easier that way." At school, Anna pals around with her trampy friend Brenda (Morgan, also effective), who always knows where the parties are and always persuades a reluctant Anna to come along.
The grungy party scenes in writer-director Susan Skoog's Whatever, unlike the lavish bash in the recent, big-studio Can't Hardly Wait, really convey the hope, disappointment and constant unease that is late adolescence. Somehow Anna always finds herself paired off with a guy she couldn't care less about while Brenda makes out with a leather-coated cutie in a corner. Who hasn't been there, done that? (R)
Bottom Line: A ruefully honest coming-of-age story
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