Mid90s ★★★

The second movie this year to focus on a band of skateboarding buddies, Oscar-nominated
actor Jonah Hill’s debut film as a writer/director isn’t nearly the luminous little gem that was Crystal Moselle’s little-seen, female-empowering
Skate Kitchen, but the roughness of Hill’s boxy, 16mm compositions cast their own spell. Sunny Suljic (The Killing of a Sacred Deer) plays Stevie, a 13-year-old outsider who’s constantly being beaten by his older half-brother, Ian (Manchester by the Sea Oscar nominee Lucas Hedges), as we see during the film’s violent opening. With his mother (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’s Katherine Waterston) too busy with men to notice, Stevie seeks an escape, which he finds as he gradually falls in with older kids who sport monikers like Fourth Grade (Ryder McLaughlin), Fuckshit (Olan Prenatt) and Ray (Na-kel Smith), who works at the skate shop where they hang out and is therefore too cool to need a nickname. But before Stevie can join their ranks, he needs to get past Ruben (Gio Galicia), currently the youngest and most insecure member of the group; Ruben’s thrilled to have someone to push around—until Ray becomes the protective older brother figure that Stevie has been missing. This comes with its own consequences as Stevie grows more fearless—and a bit reckless. Set in Los Angeles during—you guessed it—the mid-’90s, this scruffy little indie is propelled by a period-appropriate synth track by the Oscar-winning composers of The Social Network, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. (At Boston CommonKendall Square, Seaport and in the suburbs.)

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