You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Miami Film Review: ‘Love in Youth’

Quincy Perkins' stripped, subtly affecting debut takes a slow, steady look at the emotional crisis of a Key West college girl.

Quincy Perkins
Heather DeVoe, Ricardo Montero, Zach Johnson, Bruce Dietzen, Jazmin Santiago, Julie Halsteter, Quincy Perkins.

1 hour 14 minutes

Official Site: https://www.loveinyouth.com/

To be young, beautiful and in love isn’t as much fun as you’d like to think in “Love in Youth,” a minimalist, quietly lived-in first feature from Key West-based filmmaker Quincy Perkins. Following two lonely, feckless just-adults as they struggle to turn their initially magnetic connection into a workable relationship, this unassuming whisper of mumblecore may aggravate any viewers waiting for its capricious, uncommitted young lovers to, well, grow up. That may well be the point: Perkins has a soft, sensitive ear for how the inarticulacy of some teenagers reveals strong, surging, inchoate feelings in the pauses.

Not all of the nothing-doing in “Love in Youth” is equally rich in internal drama: At points, you can feel Perkins stretching and straining to build on his experience as a short-form storyteller. This is nevertheless a calmly promising debut that should travel further on the U.S. indie fest circuit following its close-to-home debut at the Miami Film Festival, before finding a home in the online-viewing realm. Meanwhile, for open-faced, serious-gazed leading lady Heather DeVoe — also a newcomer — Perkins’ film should rightly be a calling card for bigger assignments.

There’s a casual environmental specificity to “Love in Youth” that subtly and gradually fills out its slender story. (It’s the first film ever to be shot entirely in Key West.) While Perkins — acting nimbly as his own cinematographer — shoots proceedings predominantly in hazily intimate close-up, against outwardly unremarkable coffee shops, parking lots and boardwalks, the isolated island atmosphere creeps in through peripheral details, seemingly infecting the already ennui-inclined mood of newly arrived college freshman Heather (DeVoe). Wherever she has come from, and whatever she was expecting of the balmy, tranquil island, it has provided only a hemmed-in escape from home. As she vaguely assures her parents over the phone that she couldn’t be better, her tone conveys frustration that she has yet to either lose herself or find herself in her new surroundings.

Popular on Variety

When she makes instant, electric eye contact with failed janitor Eric (Ricardo Montero) in a college bathroom, it seems for a hot minute that he might be, if not a way out, a way into some kind of feeling. “Love’s supposed to hurt,” she tells him as she administers a stick-and-poke tattoo on his back — Perkins’ teens speak in unexamined cliches, which feels altogether plausible. Should young love be this much effort, though? As they idly hang out, engaging in petty crime and half-hearted flirtation, it doesn’t take long for us — and, a little later, Heather too — to see that Eric is as emotionally cramped and exasperated as she is.

“I need to know what you think of me,” she repeatedly asks her not-quite-boyfriend, and he repeatedly murmurs his way around the point: He doesn’t appear to think much of anything, and so their frail friendship hovers on the edge of something else until it begins to wither altogether. Perkins captures how such relationships tend to break down through inactivity and incomprehension rather than anything more melodramatic, though that recognition can’t help but have a stolid, slackening effect on “Love in Youth’s” narrative: A late injection of moral conflict, following one of the couple’s joint acts of theft, flickers a bit too briefly.

Still, there’s something as bracing as the languid Key West air that permeates the film about an edge-of-adulthood study this staid. Avoiding the glossy contrivances and spring-breaker fireworks that often characterise the college experience on film, “Love in Youth” says something honest and simple about that stage in life when you’re at once desperate to be heard and unsure what to say. At one point, Heather and a girlfriend let down their hair for a lusty, drunken karaoke rendition of “Summer Nights” from “Grease” — a neat, sweet, ebullient articulation of young love and heartache that couldn’t be further from the depiction it gets here. It’s the most animated we ever see her: living out a candied fantasy version of her own life for a few minutes, with someone else’s words to lean on.

Miami Film Review: 'Love in Youth'

Reviewed at Miami Film Festival (Knight Made in MIA Award), March 13, 2018. Running time: 74 MIN.

Production: A White Orchid Studios production. (International sales: White Orchid Studios, Key West.) Producer: Tom Frank. Executive producers: Julia Kaufman, Sam Kaufman.

Crew: Director, screenplay, camera (color): Quincy Perkins. Editor: Tom Frank.

With: Heather DeVoe, Ricardo Montero, Zach Johnson, Bruce Dietzen, Jazmin Santiago, Julie Halsteter, Quincy Perkins.

More Film

  • Imogen Poots

    'Black Christmas' Star Imogen Poots on Why Male Horror Fans Should See Slasher Remake

    “Black Christmas” is the second remake of the 1974 slasher classic, which centers on a group of sorority sisters stalked by an unknown murderer. While the original had the female protagonists (SPOILER) offed, in this one, the women fight back. “It’s been called a re-imagining of the original, and I think, in ways that the [...]

  • Imogen Poots as Riley in "Black

    'Black Christmas': Film Review

    “Black Christmas,” a low-budget Canadian horror movie released in 1974, was a slasher thriller with a difference: It was the very first one! Okay, there were more than a few precedents, from “Psycho” (the great-granddaddy of the genre) to “The Last House on the Left” and “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” to Mario Bava’s “A [...]

  • David Benioff, D.B. Weiss. Creators and

    'Game of Thrones' Creators to Develop H.P. Lovecraft Movie at Warner Bros.

    Following their exit from the “Star Wars” universe, “Game of Thrones” co-creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have found their replacement pic, signing on to produce an untitled thriller based on the graphic novel “Lovecraft” for Warner Bros. It is unknown if they will also direct the project, but they’ve already set Phil Hay and [...]

  • Little Women Greta Gerwig BTS

    Greta Gerwig and 'Little Women' Crew Mix Modern and Classical

    Greta Gerwig wrote and directed Sony’s “Little Women,” a new look at Louisa May Alcott’s much-loved 19th-century classic. Eager to pay tribute to her artisan colleagues, Gerwig says, “It was a joy for me to work with all these people. It’s a movie that’s impossible to create without world-class artists. They killed themselves for me!” [...]

  • Honey Boy

    Shia LaBeouf's 'Honey Boy' Adds Unusual Twist to Oscar's History With Kids

    Hollywood has made many terrific films about childhood, and many about filmmaking. Amazon’s “Honey Boy,” which opened Nov. 8, combines the two: A movie with a child’s POV of the industry. That unique angle could be a real benefit during awards season, and the film’s backstory — with Shia LaBeouf as the main attraction — will [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content