I must preface this review with regard to my bias. I have been part of skate culture myself albeit a very different one but nevertheless, I have an irresistible sentiment towards skating and what it means.
That being said, I adored Jonah Hill's tender, yet brutal, look at skating in its prime. Hill fearlessly tackles both the toxic side of skating and the cathartic quality of riding. The choice to film on VHS was a stroke of genius and the performances were some of the best I've ever seen. Truly.
Sunny Suljic is incomparable here. The film addresses so many adult topics, never being afraid to look away. There were multiple times in the film where I begged for it to cut away, yet Hill refuses to, forcing us to feel everything Stevie is feeling.
Alongside Suljic are a host of brilliant performances. Lucas Hedges plays a brittle, tough older brother, Na-kel Smith is the older brother Stevie never had, Olan Perett is a stoner fuck-up and Hip Galicia epitomes the film's outcast audience. It's one of those film where nobody are actors; everyone becomes that character completely, especially the skate crew whose dialogue and behaviour is absolute.
The film is surprisingly disturbing. While Hill films with a tender lens, the subject matter is raw with self harm being a major theme. Scenes of drug misuse and drinking are disturbing to watch and when everything finally climaxes in a catastrophic event, you truly feel hollow.
It's a film of loneliness, of self deprivation and of teen angst. Nostalgia is threaded through the entire film but it's themes are eternally strong. Mid-90s feels like a sun is setting; it sure looks pretty but the night is soon to come.