Bursting out with freshness and originality The Myth of the American Sleepover marks an auspicious debut for writer/director David Robert Mitchell. He manages to overturn all the preconceptions that hang around coming of age dramas and has extracted convincing performances from a cast of virtual unknowns. Should pick up the same kind of cult following as Heathers but with more of an appeal across the generations.
First time writer/director David Robert Mitchell was conscious that coming of age tales often fall into a well-worn furrow. He was determined to avoid such obvious pitfalls-and for the most part has succeeded here.
Based loosely on his own experiences of growing up in Michigan (though the film's not quite autobiographical), The Myth of the American Sleepover focuses on four high school teens who confront their raging hormones, inter-clique rivalries and the desperate need to belong.
Mitchell directs in an unobtrusive style that allows his performers to breathe and develop. The narrative unfolds at the end of summer just before the new school term begins.
The sexes, apart from one odd interloper, hold a series of segregated sleepovers. Maggie (played by Claire Sloma) is the most junior of the girls and therefore the lowest in the pecking order, which perhaps explains why she avoids the sleepovers and instead devotes her energies to flirting with Steven (Doug Diedrich) and taking long cycle rides with her friend Beth (Annette DeNoyer).
The round of youthful angst and swagger is well observed and sustained throughout. Mitchell's cross cutting between the various characters and their stories gives the film an edge of honesty and integrity over most titles of this type.
Mitchell and producer Adele Romanski, who met each other in film school in Florida, used some of their own financial resources to paper over cracks in the budget. Such commitment deserves just rewards. The generally positive reception at the Cannes Film Festival, where the film figured in the Critics' Week selection, ought to have made it all seem worthwhile.
Contact: Adele Romanski (646) 924-5323 firstname.lastname@example.org
Cast: Claire Sloma, Marlon Morton, Amanda Bauer, Brett Jacobsen, Nikita Ramsey, Jade Ramsey, Amy Seimetz and Olivia Coté
Director/Screenwriter: David Robert Mitchell
Producer: Adele Romanski
Rating: Not Yet Rated
Running time: 97 min
Release date: TBD