QUICK AND DIRTY: LIVE FROM MUNICH
Abby (Sierra MacCormick) is just 14 years of age, and very keen to experience the joys and the tribulations of adolescence. She has short red hair, piercing eyes with heavy eyeliner, red lipstick, and a fiery, confrontational attitude to match her striking looks. She is a girl quickly coming of age, while also grappling with her mother’s recent death (the cause of her untimely passing is never revealed). She lives with her father David (Jason Butler Harner) and his slightly younger girlfriend Leslie (Sabrina Friedman-Seitz), who is pregnant with Abby’s half-sibling. She’s hardly enthusiastic about the new addition to the family: “I’ll be 30 by the time they’re 15”. Vicious jealousy and virulent rejection prevail. She barely interacts with the two adults at home, instead locking herself in her bedroom (either alone or with her friends). Leslie attempts to make amends by inviting Abbie to a musical. But the teen violently refuses the gesture of conciliation, instead accusing her stepmother of stealing her mother’s clothes.
MacCormick gives a terrific performance as an angry and determined teen. She’s wild and energetic, with a latent tenderness that she does not allow to blossom. She avoids direct eye contact with her doting father, who is desperately attempting to forge a bond with his only child. Her shades often conceal her innermost emotions. She has a busy social life, with a closely-knit group of female friends around her age. She is particularly fond of the equally headstrong Caroline (Ryan Simpkins). Together, they dabble with marijuana and experiment cocaine. Abbie is striving to become an independent woman as soon as possible, in what might be interpreted as a vicarious gesture of affection in honour of her late mum. Throwing herself head-on into adulthood becomes the easiest way to overcome her grief. But that’s just speculation. Abby never talks about her feelings, instead leaving her parents, her friends and audiences to guess what her fears, her sentiments and her ambitions might be.
LA-based filmmakers Pablo Feldman and Sophia Sabella’s debut feature is a story familiar to most of us. Who hasn’t met a teenage girl confident that she’s always right, and that she can fight off the entire planet with her own hands? Abby is pursuing her dreams, despite confessing that she has no idea of what she wants to be when she “grows up”)? While neither distinctly subversive nor groundbreaking, Edge of Everything is relatable and enjoyable to watch. That’s because the story is told with the confidence, and the teenage performers are first-rate. These are real young people eager to experience love, sex and drugs (preferably all three at once) for the first time, regardless of the repercussions for their families and their community. They are desperate for emancipation. But their experience isn’t always bright and rosy. The darkness of the youth is emphasised by the film’s shadowy and sombre cinematography.
At a relatively brief 80 minutes, Edge of Everything neither provides easy answers nor offers comfortable closure, as you would normally expect from a more mainstream American movie. Abby does find redemption in a very small accident involving a fish tank in one of the film’s final scenes. That’s when we witness her at her most human, finally letting her guard down. This does not mean, however, that reconciliation with her parents is immediately possible. But at least it’s a start.
Edge of Everything just world premiered at the 40th Munich Film Festival.