Monday, January 29, 2018

Sundance with Abe: Never Goin’ Back

I’m thrilled to be attending and covering the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah for the fifth time. I’m seeing as many movies as I can each day and will post reviews of each as I can.

Never Goin’ Back
Directed by Augustine Frizzell

The teenage years are often the most memorable part of a person’s life, and how that time plays out can be completely different based on location, socioeconomic status, family structure, and so much more. For those without parents who provide a stabilizing force, it can be a time when they try out the world as adults, exposed to consequences that haven’t been there before and limited by little other than their own imaginations, opening the door to experiences with the potential to get them into plenty of trouble.

Angela (Maia Mitchell) and Jessie (Cami Morrone) are high school dropouts living in small-town Texas, and they couldn’t be more bored by life. Living together as best friends is the only thing that gets them through working at a diner and trying to come up with the money to pay their rent. When Angela buys a trip to the beaches of Galveston as an eighteenth birthday present for Jessie, things begin to spiral out of control as they contend with unexpected factors that put their jobs in jeopardy and lead to considerable antics that, if nothing else, keep them entertained.

Stars Maia Mitchell and Cami Morrone discuss the film

Director Augustine Frizzell describes this film as semi-autobiographical, referencing cocaine-snorting races and attempted robberies of sandwich shops as real-life events that inspired these two main characters, who are amalgamations of her and her teenage best friend. Frizzell, who couldn’t stop smiling and laughing after the film showed at Sundance, was excited to tell this story, which is primarily fun and hilarious, framing these two relatively unmotivated girls as having low aims and hard shells, determined to make their mark on a world that really doesn’t care about them.

Director Augustine Frizzell discusses the film

Both Mitchell and Morrone are excellent, and they play so well off each other that a festival programmer’s wish for this to be the first of a series of “Goin’ Back” films should be taken seriously. Supporting cast members Kyle Mooney, Joel Allen, Matthew Holcomb, and Kendal Smith are also terrific as the questionable male influences in these girls’ lives. Frizzell’s script is very funny and fresh, full of humor that manages to be feel original and lively even if some of it has been explored in other projects before. This is easily the most entertaining and enjoyable film that this reviewer saw at Sundance this year, full of promise for this debut director and its two superb young stars.


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