With his directorial debut, Jonah Hill accomplished something special. Mid90s is a film without a plot, but it's one of the few that I've seen that doesn't suffer because of it. The film is a coming-of-age story that feels realistic and is never weighted down by melodrama or hyperrealistic characters. Every interaction makes sense for teens of that time, and the drama is relatable and tender. Led by a stunning performance by newcomer Sunny Suljic, Mid90s captures the emotion and vulnerability of a young boy on the cusp of manhood.
Suljic is Stevie, a 13-year-old with an abusive older brother (Lucas Hedges) and a mom doing her best to make ends meet (Katherine Waterston). When he befriends a shady group of skater teens, he grows up too fast by smoking weed, drinking, and getting into tough situations that he isn't grown up enough to deal with emotionally. Hill does a smart job of jumping between comedy and drama with ease, keeping his characters human and complex. You feel for Stevie, but he pisses you off sometimes. Same goes for his friends. Sometimes they're like his family, but other times they're the reason he's going down the wrong path.
Mid90s is a solid independent drama that will no doubt make waves. It's a brilliant character study that features a host of memorable performances and a killer soundtrack. It feels genuine all the way through, from its funniest joke to its darkest situation. Jonah Hill has proven his ability to craft a beautiful film and I cannot wait to see what he does next.