Review: ‘Confessions of a Suburban Girl’

Third in the series of "A Director's Place" autobiographical docus commissioned by BBC Scotland, Susan Seidelman's "Confessions of a Suburban Girl" is a sparky, good-natured look at the helmer's teen years in '60s suburban Philly. More pointed and cohesive than previous entries by Nagisa Oshima and John Boorman, pic reps a strong buff item for fests and specialized webs.

Third in the series of “A Director’s Place” autobiographical docus commissioned by BBC Scotland, Susan Seidelman’s “Confessions of a Suburban Girl” is a sparky, good-natured look at the helmer’s teen years in ’60s suburban Philly. More pointed and cohesive than previous entries by Nagisa Oshima and John Boorman, pic reps a strong buff item for fests and specialized webs.

Fronted and narrated by Seidelman herself as she returns to Huntingdon Valley , an “instant neighborhood” 20 minutes outside of Philadelphia, the film mixes slick reportage, interviews with old friends and ’60s docu memorabilia with B&W recreations of memories from her teens. Result is a fascinating footnote to the helmer’s career to date, as well as a perfect intro to her works.

Story starts with her family’s move at age nine to the safe, idealized suburb , where it was like living “inside a glass bubble.” At age 14 an eye problem of blurry vision gave “a very weird twist to the world I was growing up in–American suburbia of the 1960s.” Main chunk of pic is Seidelman and old girlfriends lolling around in a bedroom and playing a mature version of truth or dare. There’s lotsa confessions about growing up, boys, bowling, drive-ins and first sex, though Seidelman herself is coy on the last.

Per her schoolfriends, we learn Seidelman for a time called herself the more Gentile-sounding “Sue Seidel” and was considered “wild” by other parents.

Clips from the helmer’s “Desperately Seeking Susan,””Cookie” and “She-Devil” are slotted in to revealing effect, directly illustrating (according to Seidelman) earlier teenage incidents and fantasies. Movie buffs will get a big kick out of such juxtapositions, pure auteurist-theory stuff.

Tech credits are all excellent, with bright, clear 16mm lensing by Maryse Alberti, sharp cutting, and a bouncy ’60s-homage music track.

Confessions of a Suburban Girl

(British-Comedy--Color/B&W)

Production

A BBC Scotland presentation of a Stonehedge production. Produced by Jonathan Brett. Executive producer, John Archer. Directed, written by Susan Seidelman.

Crew

Camera (Du Art color/B&W ), Maryse Alberti; editor, Mona Davis; music, Joseph S. DeBeasi; sound, Bruce Litecky; production design, Jessica Lanier; costume design , Sharon Pinkerson; assistant director, Maureen Kelley McKenna. Reviewed at Edinbugh Intl. Film Festival, Aug. 19, 1992. (Also in Venice festival) Running time: 50 min.

With

Young Susan ... Cynthia Mullock Young friends ... Ali Dibrino, Kim Anastasi, Amy Learn, Jessica Leiner Tough girls ... Lissa Mogell, Becky Vincenti Naked lady ... Nancy Rommelman Chemistry teacher ... Michael Steven Schultz Female teacher ... Sherry Greenberg Narrator ... Susan Seidelman
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