Mid90s is an absolute gem. Written and directed by Jonah Hill, this coming-of-age tale stands tall and shines in this saturated film genre that often fails to genuinely portray adolescence. Jonah Hill’s directorial debut, inspired by his own teenage years in Los Angeles and his involvement with the skate community, illustrates with great sincerity the perplexing emotions of growing up. It is a nostalgia fuelled film, a trip back to high school and a gratifying celebration of the 90s, full of humour and depth.
The film, set amidst a 90s summer in Los Angeles, follows timid 13-year-old Stevie (played by skateboarded and actor Sunny Suljic), a teen in search of his identity, space and a community. Stevie finds himself enamoured with the edgy skating crowd of L.A and eventually befriends Ray, Fuckshit, Ruben and Fourth Grade, a group of older skateboarders who quickly become his new family. These friendships and newfound passion allow him to finally express himself in ways he couldn’t before and escape his broken home life where Stevie often feels at loss coping with a bullying brother (played by Lucas Hedges) and single mother.
What specifically stands out in Mid90s, alongside Hill’s wonderful script, are the natural performances given by the entire cast, who through their humour and emotional openness make the portrayed friendships so relatable. This came as a pleasant surprise considering the cast is almost entirely made up of non-professional actors that Jonah Hill scouted in LA skateparks. The script finds a great balance between laugh-out-loud moments as well as powerful scenes of intimacy embracing brotherhood which the cast navigates with great ease.
The movie is rendered most nostalgic through the accompaniment of an immersive 90s soundtrack, comprising of titles such as Herbie Hancock’s Watermelon Men, Pharcyde’s Passing Me By, Souls of Mischief’s 93’ Til Infinity, and the Pixie’s Wave of Mutilation, which guarantees to absorb you into the era. Oscar winning composer duo Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, known for The Social Network and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, also offer their personal touch with soft piano-led original scores that bring a more sentimental effect to the film.
The story, the vulnerability, the beautiful vintagey cinematography and sounds of the film create an evocative experience all-around. I was reminiscent of the 1995 New York classic Kids which approaches coming-of-age stories with similar sensibilities. Hill is unafraid to offer an intimate and genuine look into a boy’s experience of self-discovery and loss of innocence and deserves much appraise for his beautiful directorial debut. Mid90s has without a doubt landed a spot in my personal top film list of recent years.Find your cinema and book now