VOD Releases: 1/1 (2018) - Reviewed

The coming of age tale is one of the most abundantly featured tropes in modern cinema. Everyone has grown up; everyone has faced situations that have changed them. Most every living person comes of age, so it's no surprise that the stories told within the trope are as different and varied as they are numerous. Perhaps the most successful purveyor of films rife with teen hijinks and angst is John Hughes. The Hughes films of the '80s, while presented in a mostly lighthearted manner, delved into some pretty adult subject matter. Taking these adult themes several steps further and removing all of the comedic frivolity of the Hughes' films (which writer-director Jeremy Phillips cited as his inspiration for this film), 1/1 is a modern taste of what it's like to grow up in America.

1/1 tells the story of Lissa (Lindsey Shaw), a party girl who has made some questionable decisions in the wake of personal tragedy and is now preparing to deal with the very adult repercussions of her actions. With all due respect to Phillips' story, the heights that this film reaches could not have been accomplished without the immaculate, stunning performance given by Shaw. From her very first moment on screen she pulls the audience in and makes them care. As dark as the film is, it would be easy to harshly condemn a character as unflinchingly imperfect as Lissa, but Shaw gives a warm depth to her performance, which allows viewers to see her for the broken, lost girl she is instead of judging and disliking her. While Shaw's star shines brightest, Judd Nelson (of perhaps the most iconic of the Hughes films, The Breakfast Club) and Dendrie Taylor (The Fighter) both give pitch perfect, devastating performances as Lissa's parents. There's a scene with Shaw and Taylor towards the end of the film that is one of the most raw and heartbreaking film moments in recent memory; it's that perfectly terrible conversation that no one ever wants to have and it's portrayed so realistically that it almost makes the viewer sick.

Highlighting the impressive performances by the cast is the ultra-stylized, multimedia presentation of the story, and the haunting, gritty soundtrack, produced and recorded entirely by the band Liars. Cinematographer Tom Banks, along with Phillips, chose to manipulate the main narrative of the film by intercutting the action with photos, old home videos and flashbacks in a frenzied, disjointed manner that succeeds in allowing the viewer to understand a little bit of what it might feel like to be in Lissa's head at that particular moment. The flashbacks also allow the audience to get the backstory bit by bit, not fully putting everything together until Lissa does. While it is disjointed, it works for the film. The soundtrack sets the perfect mood; a relentless, techno beat underscores the chaos unfolding in this girl's head.

Phillips aimed high when stepping out of the box to tell this story and, on almost every level, he succeeded. 1/1 never lets up on the viewer and because of that, Lissa's panic and pain feel oppressive and real; if Lissa can't take a breath, neither can her watchers. A character study turned into something more by its unconventional presentation, 1/1 is a unique addition to the coming of age catalog that deserves to rank amongst the best in the genre. 

Share this review.

-Josie Stec