Almost Adults is a charming addition to the LGBT film realm though it could have employed more nuance both in the characterization and in its depiction of the age-old “coming out” narrative. It takes cues from Mumblecore in its delivery but tends toward more assertive dialogue, which works for the most part. Occasionally, the concerns of the characters seem too trivial, but it does touch on a truth about a specific kind of queer experience in a digital age. While it would have been helpful if Almost Adults was more diverse in its story and cast, it’s still an excellent debut and an enjoyable film with a satisfying ending.
The film follows Mack (Elise Bauman), a baby dyke who is in the process of coming out to her parents and best friend, Cassie (Natasha Negovanlis). Cassie and Mack are childhood best friends and roommates who share everything. While Mack is helping Cassie get over a serious break-up, she finds it difficult to tell Cassie that she is queer. With the help of out-gay friend Levi (Justin Gerhard), Mack finds a girlfriend in Elliot (Winny Clarke). As these things go, Mack’s insecurities clash with Cassie’s and this creates much of the tension in the film. The film chooses to focus more on Cassie and Mack than on Mack and Elliot, which ends up working quite well.
Almost Adults takes a page from Lena Dunham’s handbook by creating characters that are only sort of likeable, and arguably for some, “sort of” is a stretch. The film features the quintessential fight between two self-involved friends whose sole conflict is the fact they are both self-involved. It would have also been helpful if the secondary characters were a little more developed. Levi, for example, is more of a stereotype than a fully realized confidant. That being said, Almost Adults is wholly enjoyable and expertly includes technology in conversation which may be a symptom of Sarah Rotella and screenwriter Adrianna DiLonardo’s relatively large Internet following. Fans of their projects can see their respective creative voices shine through which will most likely be an asset in how this film will be received. It’s very clearly directed toward a particular audience, which has its pros and cons.
What makes Almost Adults refreshing is that it’s reflexive of contemporary queer culture, albeit white centric, in a way that signals a shift in queer cinema. While it does not quite touch on ideas of nostalgia so entrenched in queer cinema, it seems to directly reflect how young people connect and disconnect with themselves and each other. At its best, this is a meditation on figuring stuff out in a contemporary world. While it does lack depth in certain areas, its tight editing and interesting shot choices create easy access for audience members.
Almost Adults is a cohesive debut film that shows our digital age’s love and relationships in a fresh way, signalling a promising career for Sarah Rotella.