Critics' Pick

Only the Young (NR)

Documentary 72 December 14, 2012
By Sarah Fisch
Faced with adolescent skateboarders in an atrophied suburban desert town, how do moviesgoers not brace for the worst? What with the entire filmography of Harmony Korine and the Jackass legacy all extolling the sorrowful but ass-kicking doom of youth adrift, which nightmare algorithm of drug use, violence, and sexual peril are the kids (and viewers) in for? Fortunately, Only the Young is a lush beauty of a documentary whose youth face the danger of un-coolness: They skateboard for Jesus and dress up as twin Gandalfs. The leads are appealing and funny: Garrison's a smiley charmer with adorable dork edge; Kevin is soulful and intense, a boy who wears his heart right on his face; Skye is an assertive young woman whose dry observations about the guys make her a keen audience surrogate. All have lousy poker faces, so we feel the threats tugging at their equilibrium, the social stigmas, and the difficulties in building any love relationships, platonic or not. The doc trades some of its prelapsarian magic for social-realism when it examines Skye's difficult family situation. Skye deserves her own movie – she's resourceful, sagacious, and understandably frustrated with the kid preoccupations of her to compatriots. Only The Young captures the lyricism of late childhood, and the bewilderment of the road ahead. As for the skate footage: It's shot for pure glory, for all the world like Wild China or Blue Planet; beautiful beings struggling in exotic habitats: abandoned houses, red-gold bluffs and run-down mini-golf courses.
Elizabeth Mims, Jason Tippet Skye Elmore, Kristen Cheriegate, Garrison Saenz, Robin Levy, Kevin Conway Derek Waters Oscilloscope

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