West of Pluto Henry Bernadet and Myriam Verreault

West of Pluto Henry Bernadet and Myriam Verreault
Capturing teen zeitgeist is like an unspoken holy grail for filmmakers: success grants immediate immortality in the eyes of a generation (just ask John Hughes), while failure frames you as a hopelessly clueless square trying to cash-in on a youth movement. Thankfully, Quebecois film West of Pluto leans more towards the former category. Like most teen flicks, the events here take place in a single day, starting at school. We're introduced to small cliques within a larger social group. Some smoke weed, others play in a band together, but all carry the awkwardness that accompanies being a teenager. At the end of the school day we're given glimpses into their home lives as the kids get ready to crash a house party hosted by one of their less popular classmates. Inevitably that house is trashed and the rest of the film is spent running from cops and their classmate's older and seriously pissed off brother. West of Pluto has a hazy observational quality reminiscent of recent Gus Van Sant flicks like Elephant and Paranoid Park. But where those films hinged on cataclysmic events — a school shooting and an accidental murder — West of Pluto's strength comes from the mundane nature of its plot. The details of the kids' interactions offer a voyeuristic glimpse into the world of teenage politics. Watching characters social climb or pine after a girl that's out of their clique is a painful reminder of how much it sucks to be 16. The DVD includes a litany of bonus features, including four trailers, deleted and behind-the-scenes footage, a making-of photo gallery, a reel of skateboarding footage and a blooper reel. Unfortunately, none are subtitled, so their value is determined by how much you paid attention in your high school French class. (Seville)