I had been following the release of this documentary feature for quite some time, unfortunately Oscilloscope only screened it for a handful of special engagements & I was sick the one time I had the chance to see it nearby. Only the Youngis a disarmingly simple piece of work, it follows three teenage friends through everyday life over the course of a school year. But that logline might make for a simple work of fiction, it’s a different story however when trying to capture that kind of thing authentically and openly in documentary. The filmmakers follow the leads as though they’re not an intrusion at all, and even the ‘talking heads’ aspects come off as natural, near inner-monologue type revelations. A touching look at young adult friendship, the struggles of coming of age, and the dual profundity & naïveté of teenagers. It is also one of the more respectful treatments of modern day Christians in the media, though that angle is teased more than fleshed out (they talk about church plenty, but the most we see of the leadership and participation is a single event for a ‘skateboarding ministry’ which was admittedly eye-opening).
Honest portrayals of everyday issues and triumphs (or as close as we get to ‘triumphant’ in real life) are something I’m very fond of, and hard to come by. I’d love the opportunity to speak with the filmmakers about how they accomplish what they did, especially as this is the first documentary feature for each (the first directing gig altogether for one of them) because it’s what I’d aim for in the projects I’m working on.
Big thanks to PBS’ POV for presenting this to everyone, if you’re at all interested in documentary, coming of age stories, interviewing, American life, etc. you owe it to yourself to check this out while its available. It’ll be streaming on PBS.org until the middle of August.