Adolescence Review: A Coming-Of-Age, Drug-Fuelled Teenage Love Story

By Daniel Hart
Published: June 24, 2019
Adolescence Film 2019 - Director Ashley Avis


Ashley Avis’s film Adolescence is beautifully indicative of toxic young-love, in this compelling, tragic coming-of-age drama.

Ashley Avis’s film Adolescence understands the exhilaration of young love, and how beautifully dangerous it can be. It follows a young, shy, creative man named Adam (Mickey River) who becomes discouraged by the opposite sex, but after one night where his persuasive friend Keith (Romeo Miller) lulls him into speaking to teenage women, his life changes forever. What brews beneath him is a broken home; an abusive father and disconnected mother, and a brother to connect hoping to conceal the real world.

[su_pullquote align=”right”]You never forget the opening scene of Adolescence.[/su_pullquote]

Like most coming-of-age dramas, Adolescence does not set a goal but highlights a moment of closure for the teenager that is growing into the adult world. Once he meets Alice (India Eisley), his view of the world changes ever so slightly. The film represents an escape from the darkness that lay at home and the formalities of growing up. Alice represents the wild enigmatic woman that many men would chase in their younger years. She injects excitement, rock and roll nights, sex and the belief of endless possibilities. Adolescence forms a relationship from the start and presents an environment where the audience can see the toxicity forming.

The strength of Adolescence comes from the tragedy of two young souls venturing to the dark side of drugs, unable to grasp the commonalities of the adult world. There’s a great sense of frenzy that upholds the story, especially in the middle act, gruesomely projecting various sex scenes and the piercing of injections into the skin. Director Ashley Avis implemented a coming-of-age, drug-fueled love story of misery – the film frames itself from a sympathetic perspective, encouraging the audience to want to leap into the screen and hug the young teenagers.

You never forget the opening scene of Adolescence, with a young Adam, sat in his mother’s car as she speaks to another man. The camera intentionally pans down, so you only see a young boy’s perspective that cannot see the face of an older, taller man. This scene, in particular, is indicative of the rest of the film – a young boy resisting the toils of adulthood and toying with an inescapable cycle.

Adolescence does fail to keep hold of Adam’s story once he meets Alice, presumably to signal that the young woman has similar issues, and the film becomes largely about how chaotic their lives can become, rather than the demons that follow them. It’s intentional, for the audience, to understand how broken their paradigms have become, but it would have flavoured the story if it did not waste valuable screen-time showing montages of sex and injections. The second act would have benefitted from some genuine perspective from the loved-up couple.

But taking nothing away from a well-crafted feature, the performances from Mickey River and India Eisley are impressive and pointedly understanding of what it is like to be a hormone-fuelled teenager. The early introduction of the characters plant a base for the rest of the film; the way they patiently look at each other and react with others in their company before they endured a relationship is more telling than when they speak, and that boils down to synergy in the performances.

Ashley Avis’s Adolescence is constructively well-directed, and despite a fairly sloppy middle act, the message of the story is loud and clear.

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