One evening, Parker Hill and Isabel Bethencourt were filling up a tank at a gas station in rural Texas when they met three teenage girls who would soon bring them to life. The result is a Showtime documentary Cusp, which follows three girls on a lazy summer outing smoking and drinking, being with boys and their guns, and sharing many intimate, disgruntled stories about family and sex lives. their. If the film is too intimate or simply revealing it is debatable, but it certainly leaves a significant impression.
‘CUSP’: LEARN IT OR FORGET IT?
Gist: “I feel like what most girls have to endure is that they don’t get seen,” Autumn says, as we watch her and her friends stand by the fire. Well, she and two of her friends, all about 16 years old, are about to be seen – and heard – like never before. Brittney says she always hangs out with older people because she insists, “I’m mature enough to be an adult.” Aaloni identifies herself as a tough girl who is second to none. Autumn says she’s different from other girls because she drinks but isn’t drunk, and thinks before she acts. The next 80 minutes, covering about a summer in their lives, will see them contradict all of the above. But they’re stupid the way all young people are, they’re bored, and they’re hurt, and you’ll forgive them, and maybe grow up to love them a little.
The documentary’s opening scene tells: Two girls take selfies while the boys older than them hang out with a machine gun and pistol for some target practice. We watch Autumn, Aaloni and Brittney as they party and lie around, as they touch each other’s backs, (they say it’s just a fact of life), as they build sandcastles and jump into swimming holes and pierce each other’s nipples (thankfully its graphic details are still out of the camera). They talk about how one of their friends “basically” was raped, but the man did it “just like that” :; then they all just shrugged and started talking about something else. Son will be boys? We see them at parties with some boys, the older ones, 18, 19, 20; they have guns and motorbikes, and grind pills on the table and inhale the powder. We see shots of girls sneaking out of the house at night in the form of ominous musical drones in the background, representing threats lurking – well, about what? Violence? Definitely looks like it.
We had no choice but to listen attentively as the three principals shared their résumés. Autumn was repeatedly sexually abused while her mother looked the other way; She is now in treatment and living with her ailing father, who is attached to an oxygen tank. She says that her boyfriend respects and knows everything about her; we see them dozing on the bed with his hand lifted up her shirt; he will dump her before the documentary ends. Brittney basically lives with her older boyfriend, coming home occasionally to spend time with her family one night, which she considers pointless, as her parents are just getting drunk and fighting; She was also sexually abused several times as a child. Aaloni’s mother is a character in this movie, just one of the girls, and she has stood by her husband, Aaloni’s father, through very difficult times, much of it related to time. he was in the military, engulfed by long absences and then PTSD. . Aaloni and her siblings don’t like their dad; we hear him, with the camera off, yelling at Aaloni and all but refusing to listen to her when she tries to share her feelings. This is the real life of these girls.
What movies will remind you of?: Cusp is a rough blend of troubled teen intimacy with Care about the distance with TMI’s vibes Murder in America: The next family and Catherine Hardwicke’s shocking fiction for uncontrolled girlsThirteen.
Performances worth watching: Aaloni, Brittney, and Autumn are complex, flawed people who deserve our sympathy (and aren’t alone in their flaws and complications). There are no “shows” here; what we see feels very raw and real.
Memorable dialogue: Autumn: “There is no normal in adolescence. We were all confused.”
Gender and Skin: The discussions are surprisingly frank about sexual assault, but not as detailed as the pictures.
Our Take: Cusp is a provocative, mesmerizing documentary. Parker and Bethencourt capture the lives and surroundings of their subjects with poetic, poignant imagery that adds a sense of intimacy to the film. The filmmakers capture exactly what’s in the title: Three Girls on the Brink of adulthood. In some moments, they threw mud at each other like children. In others, they drink and smoke incessantly, and talk about how they are often forced to do things adults do before they are ready to do, and yes, that includes almost exclusively sexual activity – which the three girls freely shared. openly, clearly showing implicit trust in the filmmakers. That’s the kind of trust that definitely needs to be gained. Someone is finally listening to them, and the directors are giving them a platform on which they, in the parlance of the times, can “be seen.”
But it’s also the big risk Autumn, Brittany and Aaloni are facing, opening themselves up to exploitation. The movie doesn’t really feel like it’s using girls as themes for wary stories so other parents can scare their kids. It is dangerous to mislead them as representatives of a troubled generation, or examples of the results of poor, inattentive parenting. Sure, the film addresses the male-dominated culture in a lot of girls’ conversations about sexual consent; they all came to separate conclusions that “no” meant little in their world, that the men in their lives were too strong to confront. And our hearts break for them.
Probably Cusp shows how comfortable teenagers have grown up with social media and modern technology are in front of the camera, they don’t mind over-sharing. But as we delve into influential themes, we can’t forget that this is a film about Autumn, Brittany, and Aaloni, who are counted among the larger world – a world that records schools. cases of teen abuse, self-harm, drug use – but wonder what the hell they need to do to stop it. They talk about getting out of their hellish situations, as so many teenagers do. But in their case, it rarely feels urgent and necessary.
Our call: Cusp Not an easy watch to wear, but in many ways a must-have. INSTRUCTIONS IT.
John Serba is a freelance writer and film critic based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Read more of his work at johnserbaatlarge.com.
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