Every once in a while a movie comes along that completely understands you. The Myth of the American Sleepover is that movie. The coming-of-age film is the work of first time director David Robert Mitchell. What he’s created in Sleepover is a gentle and sweet retelling of a time of insecurity and great awakening. The film made its debut at SXSW earlier this year, and tomorrow (July 29th) you’ll be able to see it in L.A. Sleepover is great debut for Mitchell because he focuses on what’s important and although his film is about teenage-hood it is much more than another teen movie.
- Director/Writer: David Robert Mitchell
- Actors: Claire Sloma, Marlon Morton, Amanda Bauer, Brett Jacobsen, Nikita Ramsey, Jade Ramsey,
- Original Music by: Kyle Newmaster
- Cinematography by: James Laxton
Four young people navigate the suburban wonderland of metro-Detroit looking for love and adventure on the last weekend of summer.
- Claire Sloma: There’s no real specific main character, but if there had to be one, it would be Maggie, played by first time actress Claire Sloma. The story begins and ends with her. Sloma is brilliant. Her acting transcends the barriers of the movie screen and I was able to feel whatever she felt. If she was shy, I felt shy. Hopefully she takes on acting because this was a really great debut.
- The Rest of the Cast: The film was filled with first time actors (maybe even non-actors). That was a great decision (maybe not for publicity, but it’s a great indie move). I was able to see the actors for what their characters were and not anything else. The film was effective because the acting was so honest and great.
- The Craft as a Whole: Sleepover isn’t your typical teenage movie (it’s not dirty, campy or goofy). It’s sort of like Almost Famous, which was Cameron Crowe‘s love letter to music. Sleepover is Mitchell’s love letter to his teenage years. It’s like he took everything that makes those teen years so memorable – crushing on someone, feeling insecure and vulnerable, jealousy – and married them together. Mitchell approached his story with honesty, without fronts, and that’s what makes this film stand out.
- The Different Stories: Mitchell decided to use more than one main character in his story. During the film he switches from one story to another. All of his characters are in someway connected, but the stories are all different. Each story shares feelings of insecurity, vulnerability, etc., but the points of view are different. This makes the film more relatable to more people. Also, as an audience member seeing all of these different stories, you can see that even though the characters are very different, they share the same feelings. It’s really an amazing thing to see.
- Test of Time: The one thing we know about the setting of Sleepover is that it’s summer and the kids live in some suburb in Michigan. What we don’t know is what year it is, but from the look of things, Sleepover is set before the time of cellphones and laptops. None of the kids have any of those things. If you’re a kid growing up today, you won’t be able to relate because chances are you’ve been having a cellphone since you were twelve.
Sleepover isn’t a modern coming-of-age story, but the film is not about that. Mitchell didn’t set out to make a film about how today’s kids overuse technology, instead he opted for a simpler approach. So although the structure of the story won’t stand the test of time, the message of Sleepover is timeless. The film has great acting and it’s honestly an excellent story. If it’s playing near you, go watch it.
The Myth of the American Sleepover will be in select Los Angeles theaters starting Friday, July 29, 2011.