A 2009 indie film starring little-known actors and a sort of strange storyline is not the typical choice for a Saturday afternoon movie. But, me being me, I decided to give Regina Crosby’s Teenage Dirtbag a try. What I got out of that was a surprisingly honest and worthwhile film strewn with great poetry and music.
Teenage Dirtbag – which, by the way, has nothing to do with the Wheatus song – tells the story of Amber, a popular yet quiet high school senior, and Thayer, a delinquent on the opposite end of the social spectrum. Although they never got along before, things change when they’re placed in the same creative writing class and start to see past what it is that they want each other to see. It sounds very typical but this movie, being based on a true story, throws in the harsh realities of drug abuse, difficult family lives and suicide, making it anything but.
This film deserves some recognition because it’s too little known compared to the many aspects that made it worth watching. Released just three years ago, the low budget filmmaking makes it look older than it is but this ends up working beautifully, setting a grungy and authentic tone to the movie. Adding to this grunge feel is its music, which, like the movie, was a pleasant surprise.
There are many different genres that can be heard throughout the film ranging from different types of metal to hard pop. It even features a Canadian indie musician, Jason Zerbin. Now, I don’t know if this is just my personal obsession with film scores talking, but I found that the score, composed by Geno Lenardo, was the most memorable. The theme song, too, was both memorable and Lenardo’s brainchild.
The song ‘You’re Not Gonna Save Me’ can be heard in the trailer and it immediately caught my attention and left me wanting more. Unfortunately, Lenardo hasn’t yet started his own band, but here’s to hoping.
Apart from the story, the filmmaking and the music, the only thing left to discuss would be the acting – which for an indie, has the power to make or break an entire film. Luckily, the acting in Teenage Dirtbag is yet another area for which I have no complaints. Scott Michael Foster, who plays Thayer, is beyond talented and I’m sure will catapult very soon. He made this performance so real yet unpredictable that it stole the screen every time he came on. Amber was played by Noa Hegesh, an Isreali actress who delivered but was overtaken by Foster every time they shared the screen. This worked, however, as Foster had enough intensity for the both of them.
Overall, I would definitely recommend Teenage Dirtbag for anyone who’s into indie flicks, good music and doesn’t mind a gritty movie.