Movie Reviews

SXSW 2016 Movie Review: ‘Teenage Cocktail’

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Moving to a new high school in the middle of small town America is bad enough, but an altercation with a fellow student finds Annie (Nichole Bloom) in the counselor’s office before the end of her first day. It seems like it’s going to be a long year – until she stumbles into the school auditorium where Jules (Fabianne Therese) is practicing her dance routine.

The two strike up an immediate friendship, and soon they’re completely inseparable – not to mention head over heels for each other. When Annie discovers that Jules is raking in cash as a webcam model, she decides to get in on the action, but small town gossip and an encounter with one of their biggest fans (Pat Healy) threaten to turn everything upside down.

Bloom’s transformation from the shy, awkward girl at a new school to the smitten, rebellious teen feels genuine, and the two leads share a very palpable chemistry. The creeping sense of danger during the film’s third act and the violent, explosive climax are handled well, and director John Carchietta deserves commendation for never allowing the subject matter to feel vulgar or salacious – a feat that many lesser filmmakers may not have accomplished. Despite some of its darker themes, Teenage Cocktail is ultimately a story about adolescent love, which is something that any audience should be able to relate to.

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