Puberty Blues is a leisurely, entertaining tale about a group of teenagers fumbling, fighting and fretting their way through adolescence.
Puberty Blues is based on a book of the same name, published in 1979, by Sydney teenagers Kathy Lette and Gabrielle Carey, who also wrote for local newspapers and magazines under the intriguing pseudonym, the Salami Sisters.
Set in the middle-class suburb of Cronulla, one of Sydney’s southern beaches, the story focusses on Debbie and Sue, two girls of fairly average looks, intelligence and upbringing. Opening passages show them falling in with one of the school gangs, cheating in exams, smoking in the toilets, getting drunk, and pairing off with boyfriends.
Film gains more momentum when Debbie fears she is pregnant, her boyfriend Garry cannot cope, he seeks refuge in heroin, and dies of an overdose. To offset the bleakness, the pic is laced with Debbie’s witty observations and humorous interludes.
Working with a young, inexperienced cast, Beresford has drawn some remarkable performances. Nell Schofield, 17, is particularly impressive as Debbie, an intuitive player with tangible screen presence.