So, here’s the thing. When people make movies, they do it for all types of reasons. To make money. To make a statement to the world. To give a minority group a storyline and a platform.
Some movies are born from a writer’s need to tell their story. To say, “this is how I see the world and this is what I’ve experienced in life and I wanted to share it with you. And if you like it - cool. And if you don’t - cool.”
If I hadn’t gone through an experience of coming out as bisexual to my best friends last year, I may not have related to the character of Mackenzie in Almost Adults. If I didn’t work in social media, I may not have appreciated the inclusion of animated text messages to narrate the story. And if I also hadn’t developed a unique sense of humor from watching too many episodes of The Simpsons and The L Word, then a lot of the jokes may have been lost on me.
But those were my experiences, therefore I can say from the bottom of my heart, I fucken loved Almost Adults. After reading other reviews of this film, it’s clear that other women are disappointed that it was not fully representational of the entire LGBTQ community. And it’s not - because it can't be.
Our experiences and stories are all different. A group of mostly women made Almost Adults, and I value their need to tell this particular story their way.
So, with that being said, let me synopsize the shit out of this thang.
Almost Adults is a platonic love story between two best friends, Cassie and Mackenzie. They share everything with each other - an apartment, ice creams, their love for Pizza Hut buffet (RIP Pizza Hut buffet). Well, at least they thought they shared everything. Mackenzie (Elise Bauman, Carmilla, Young Badlands) is coming to terms with the fact that she is gay, and she is slowly telling everyone, except her best friend Cassie (Natasha Negovanlis, Carmilla, Haunted or Hoax). When Cassie inadvertently finds out, she doesn’t care that Mack is gay, she is just super pissed that she’s the last to know.
From there, their friendship gets significantly awkward and distant, and I found myself yelling at the screen “Goddammit ladies. You’re best friends. Get your shit together!” Ok, that’s a good place to stop the synopsis.
Now I’d like to discuss the writing by Adrianna DiLornado (The Gay Women Channel- YouTube). The dialogue between Cassie and Mackenzie is EXACTLY how some best friends in their early 20s talk to each other. When Cassie and Mackenzie run into Cassie’s ex-boyfriend, they both quickly jump into the changing room and the exchange between the two is hilarious. Cassie panically whispers, “why the hell did you let me try on this dress, I look like an idiot!” Mack replies, “I told you to bring Levi. I don’t know anything about this shit. I only came for the goddam pretzel that was promised to me.”
It felt like they’d known each other their whole lives. They were so incredibly relatable. I found myself drifting into a fantasy friendship with them. And now when I check my phone I’m like, “where the hell are Cassie and Mackenzie in my contact list?”
First-time director Sarah Rotella (The Gay Women Channel- YouTube) chose the low-budget option of filming most of Almost Adults in Mack and Cassie’s apartment. But it works really well. The audience is the fly on the wall. A ‘welcomed fly’ if I may.
Now, down to the acting.
Natasha Negovanlis (Cassie) handles the comedy well. She has great timing and the inflection in her voice makes each line of dialogue even funnier. If you read Cassie’s characteristics on paper, you may not like her. She’s a little snobbish, a tad too needy and self-involved. But aren’t we all? Luckily, Negovanlis breathes likeability, humor and kindness into her.
Elise Bauman (Mackenzie) is a natural. There’s a scene when she’s about to utter the words “I am gay” to her parents and Bauman’s hesitation is beautiful. She owns the character of Mackenzie. I remember the first time I saw actress Greta Gerwig act. I thought to myself, “a star is born.” Bauman gave me that exact same feeling.
We put so much pressure on films to be inclusive and fully representative of everyone in the world. Sometimes we lose their message in the process. This is a story about navigating best friendships and the drama that comes along with them. We overreact, we screw up, we place blame on people who don’t deserve it. Almost Adults taps into these experiences with a lovely simplicity.
I felt less alone in the world after seeing this film, and that’s all I could ever ask for.