Youth in Revolt (Miguel Arteta, 2009): USA

Reviewed by Jackson Bishop. Viewed at the AFI Film Festival in Hollywood.

Miguel Arteta’s Youth in Revolt presents a story of young people that we have seen a bunch of times already, but does so in a way that makes it entertaining and to a certain extent, original.  The dry humor in the film works, and Michael Cera delivers one of the best performances of his career.

The film tells the story of Nick Twisp, a mild mannered young man who invents his own, personal Tyler Durden-eque personality when he fails to win the attention of his desired love interest.  From there the film cruises as a very serviceable comedy, with half the laughs coming from the fact that we get to see Cera saying and doing things that are strongly askiew from his traditional public face.

This is one of the best parts of the movie as we so rarely get to see him play characters that are not simply different versions of Michael Cera.  Most of the actors in the film also do well, especially Rooney Mara, Justin Long, and Steve Buscemi, obviously because Steve Buscemi is always fantastic. 

The direction and writing help seperate this film from the spat of “Indie” styled films that have flooded screens since Juno was released.  Gustin Nash’s script is fairly tight, and keeps the characters largely on its mind without losing any of its plot threads.  Arteta’s direction makes the film creative without being overy apparent, making for an immersive tone that never overly asserts itself.

Not verything in the film works so well.  The cinematography sometimes seems like it belongs in a different, more pretentious movie, making itself far too visible at times.  The same can be said for the film’s editing, which takes itself a bit too seriously at times.

Any fans of Micahel Cera that have been waiting to see him do something different will love this movie, but it should also appeal to most fans of comedies who don’t mind a touch of that “Indie” feeling.

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