Film Review: School’s Out

BFI Southbank recently showed a series of short films, which were created as a part of the Teenage Kicks Season. The purpose behind the project was to give the young people their own voice, to enable them to create their own stories, and to give them an opportunity to critique how adult filmmakers portray their generation. Wimbledon College of Arts came up with a brilliant concept for a set, which was to be a teenager’s bedroom, but changed every week to portray a different character. It was an interesting mix of stories, told from varied perspectives by young filmmakers. Out of 87 submissions, BFI picked 8 to be filmed. Scott Robert’s script, School’s Out was one of them.

Briana Clark’s worst secret is out. The self-titled Queen B has fallen off her position, because a video of her throwing up has been all over the internet. The film opens with Briana reading her schoolmates’ reactions online. There are a few people showing support, but most are gleeful to see her fall.

Briana had kept her bulimia private, and now that the secret is out, she has a long way to go down before she can climb back up again. The set for this film is that of a typical teenager in an American high school from a well-to-do family. Briana’s portrayal as a rich, spoiled girl is complete when she destroys her room in a fit of rage – but it’s not just her bitchy side that we see. In the few minutes where we see Briana’s life played out, it is implied that besides the social pressure to look beautiful and stay on the upper rungs of the social ladder, Briana probably gets that pressure from her mother too, who had signed her up for a spin class.

The film itself was well shot, professionally made, and polished. The ending is interestingly ambiguous, as the film ends with the line, “Queen B, making a comeback.” Briana’s smile is deliberate, and comes across as a combination of deviousness and determination. Perfect for the character that is supposed to be a high-school social elite, and considers it her right.

Scott Robert’s script is thoughtful, teasing, and with just enough details to create backstory out of just one scene in the audience’s mind. It was a pleasure to watch, and a great piece of art from a group of young filmmakers.

Photo credits to BFI.

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