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In Jonah Hill’s first hand at directing and screenwriting is the story of Stevie (“Sunburn”), played by Sunny Suljic, who lives in Los Angeles and is frequently beaten up by his older brother. Stevie finds a new set of older role models in a skater group. The boys of mixed ages introduce him to skating and usher him into adulthood in a way that his family can’t. Overall, I liked the film. The writing and the directing reminded me of Richard Linklater’s earliest films like Slacker; the camera works to merely observe without complicated plot and without judgment. I was in my mid-thirties in the mid-90’s, so I was too old to be part of the skater culture, but through the dialog and the music I felt like I experienced one slice of what that life in that era may have been like. The acting, particularly by Suljic, is solid; I understand many of the others are skaters with little or no previous acting experience, which enhances its authenticity. Thumbs up for a coming-of-age film that establishes Hill as a director/writer to be taken seriously

About Gary Burkholder

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