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Beyond Clueless

Beyond Clueless

Released 23 January 2015
Director Charlie Lyne
Narrator Fairuza Balk
Writer(s) Charlie Lyne

Charlie Lyne, Billy Boyd Cape, Anthony Ing
Origin United Kingdom
Running Time 89 minutes
Genre Documentary, horror, romance
Rating TBC

Teen spirit.

From the other side of the Atlantic, we have all attended the American high school; we have made friends with the geeks and the outcasts, watched the cheerleaders hook up with the jocks and had that one perfect night at prom, all from the relative safety of our cinema seat. Journalist Charlie Lyne has spent more time than most in those crowded hallways and his visual essay Beyond Clueless is a paean to the sweet and the sour of the teen-movie genre.

If you’re expecting a traditional documentary, you may find Beyond Clueless a little confounding; Lyne approaches his subject from a critical standpoint, assembling a dizzying visual montage from hundreds of teen films to create a sweeping textual analysis of the genre as a whole. Breaking his piece into chapters narrated by Fairuza Balk, Lyne examines the life of a movie teenager in anthropological detail as their hearts and minds are moulded (and at times warped) by the pressures and pleasures of adolescence. The film is beautifully edited so that the film clips almost melt together into one uber-text, all sound-tracked brilliantly by the sugary but acerbic pop of indie band Summer Camp.

Lyne’s extensive knowledge of the genre means that his choice of films confound expectations, encompassing not only mainstream fare but also the left-field work of filmmakers like Todd Solondz and Larry Clark. The films he alights upon for more in-depth analysis are also somewhat surprising - the Jake Gyllenhaal oddity Bubble Boy for example and the Freddie Prinze Jr confection She’s All That. It is this appreciation for both the mainstream and the obscure that makes the film such a pleasure to watch - I was reminded of films I had forgotten existed and at times, the places and people that surrounded me when I had watched them.

For fans of the genre and film nerds in general, Beyond Clueless is a hugely enjoyable watch. The rhythmic editing turns what could have been a dry, academic exercise into a spirited love letter to the American teen movie.

- Linda O’Brien