Picture Day: wry, superb coming-of-age movie

Picture Day is one of the best movies I saw last year. It's Kate Melville's directorial film debut, but for those of us who've followed her career since she was the youngest-ever playwright-in-residence at Toronto's Tarragon Theatre, it is the apotheosis of everything Melvillian — witty, wry, insightful material about teen relationships, the dreadful and wonderful desire to experience adult life, and the fundamental bizarreness of being a teen who has the self-awareness to understand how reckless actions are self-destructive but can't seem to give them up.

Here's the official synopsis:

Forced to repeat her senior year of high school, Claire's (Tatiana Maslany) reputation is sliding from bad-ass to bad joke. Armed with an acid tongue and shielded by ever-present headphones, Claire locks onto the only student clueless to her sordid rep: Henry (Spencer Van Wyck), a nerdy freshman she used to babysit. At night, Claire escapes to raucous concerts where she catches the eye of 33-year–old Jim (Steven McCarthy, frontman of The ElastoCitizens), a would–be rock star who feeds on young fans' adoration. Jim leads her into an intoxicating world of hard-partying musicians, while at school, Claire takes Henry under her wing. She reinvents her dorky friend as the mysterious rebel, throwing Henry's life into hilarious turmoil. As Claire dances across the surface of these relationships, she eventually learns hard lessons about the difference between sex, intimacy, and friendship.

Picture Day has won a string of awards since it debuted at last year's Toronto International Film Festival — but it has been locked up in distribution wrangles since then. Finally, it's available on DVD and as a download in the USA and Canada at least.

I've known Kate since she was 15 and I was 17, and I've been admiring her work for more than 25 years. It is such a pleasure to be able to recommend her film to you and to share the secret of her wild talent with the rest of the world.

Picture Day [Amazon]

Picture Day [Official Site]