Prom nights, jocks, bullies, repression, virginity, makeovers and masturbation are all explored and evaluated brilliantly in Charlie Lyne’s debut feature Beyond Clueless.
The film serves as a documentary on the teen film, but ditches the traditional talking head interview format in favour of a sharply constructed montage of the genre, narrated dreamily by former teen star Fairuza Balk (of The Craft fame).
Film-makers have been targeting the young and easily-moulded mind of the teenager since the era of James Dean, so it might seem odd to some that Beyond Clueless focuses solely on films from the nineties to present. However, the use of only more contemporary movies simply adds to the fresh, vibrant feel of the film, and with it’s short runtime, so much is crammed in; it feels perfectly concise and controlled.
So while it may have been interesting to see some exploration of the John Hughes golden age in the eighties, the film doesn’t lose anything by avoiding them. And there are so many different genres explored already (comedy, horror, drama, the list goes on) that adding more might have slackened the tight grip it has on what it wants to say.
As someone who’s the same age Lyne, there’s a sort of giddy joy in reliving and recapping the films I grew up on, but the Beyond Clueless is at it’s most enjoyable and intriguing when it’s making you look at them in a different way.
I’ve seen Eurotrip a few times when I was younger, and had never even registered the potential subtext of homosexual denial. Nor did I ever consider just how icky and repressive the conservative tones are in The Girl Next Door.
The film has certainly picked an interesting subject to explore, as with many of the two hundred plus films used in the film, it’s clear to see that there’s much more bubbling under the surface of a genre that’s often too easily dismissed as somewhat frivolous.
Beyond Clueless is a sharp, clever, fast paced analysis, carried along by the husky and enthralling tones of it’s narrator. It’ll make you want to seek out the films of your youth and really think about them, and then watch this all over again.