Memories Of A Teenager ***
Starring: Renato Quattordio, Thomas Lepera, Malena Narvay, Jerónimo Bosia
Director: Lucas Santa Ana
Zabo (Quattordio) is sixteen. Following the suicide of his best friend, he begins writing a blog, entitled “Memories Of A Teenager”, in which he records his conflicted feelings about life, love and his burgeoning sexuality. As he tries to find himself, he lists the ideal attributes he would be looking for in a girlfriend, only to discover that he is actually describing everything about his best friend Tomás (Lepera). In an attempt to discover if he’s gay after all, he allows the hunky Ramiro (Bosia) to pursue him, only to meet Tina (Narvay) a charismatic but unavailable girl, for whom he also develops feelings.
On the one hand, this slick teen drama perfectly captures the confusion of adolescence, with Zabo’s conflicting feelings of dogged devotion and more adventurous exploration at loggerheads with each other. It’s this internal battle that drives its story, but it’s also dressed with some fun narrative devices and a slick glossy execution that would make Love, Simon proud.
On the other hand, this is a film about suicide that never really comes to terms with the enormity of its subject, instead using it like a cheap book-end. It almost romanticises it, especially in its final act, where it’s painted as something almost noble. There’s a heartbreaking scene in which Tomás lashes out at Zabo, saying that he should be “be alive for yourself, not for us”, in which the director has found that poignancy just momentarily, only to squander it with a sensationalist ending that is neither needed or warranted. The “he-couldn’t-cope-so-he-killed-himself” trope is something so simplistic it feels like a Year 9 Drama piece, not a sophisticated movie with an international release.
Latin teen cinema has fared well in the last decade (watch Brazilian The Way He Looks (2014) for a perfect LGBT+ example) and though there are problems with Memories Of A Teenager, it’s certainly an entertaining and zesty film, with oodles of energy and youthful vigour. It’s stylish, dynamic and fun, but stumbles only at the hurdle of sensitivity. Which is ironic, as it’s a film entirely about a young man’s feeling.
UK RELEASE: 22nd February 2021 on DVD, released by Matchbox Films