There are movies we grow out of as we get older and for me one of those genres would be teen oriented centric films. Today’s culture/mainstream is completely out of my wheel house where instead I take comfort in my John Hughes’ collection and the occasional Can’t Hardly Wait, Clueless or American Pie. Now, there are films that share that same innocence as a Breakfast Club or Sixteen Candles such as Little Manhattan or even a raunchy comedy like Good Boys but they seem few and far in between. That’s why it was refreshing to watch first time writer/director Sarah Sherman alongside co-director Zachary Ray Sherman’s new film Young Hearts. The story centers on high school freshman Harper, played by Anjini Taneja Azhar (Star Trek Into Darkness, The Brink), as she maneuvers through the obstacles of having her first love.
Harpers falls for her older brother’s best friend who is a sophomore, Tilly played by feature newcomer Quinn Liebling (Everything Sucks). Although the film is mainly about Harper/Tilly this is most certainly Harper’s story. What was so refreshing about this film was it did not act as if it knew more than you: overly preachy or focused on “making a statement”. I say this because Harper’s character is an Indian adoptee who along with her “brother” were adopted by a white couple from Portland, Oregon. This film is merely Harper’s discovery of herself and the double standard men/women face when it comes to sex. It is a matter of circumstance, unfortunately, but it plays it course much like any other teenage “event” as it just fades away over time. When put into perspective this is a love story between 14/15 year olds and as intense as their relationship grows it still is just a high school romance.
What was so satisfying and sweet to watch were the interactions between Harper and Tilly; two individuals finding love for the first time and that feeling when you connect with that special someone. It plays out so organically and is only elevated higher by the performances/chemistry between Azhar and Liebling. Azhar especially is a treat to watch on screen as she stands out in every scene; her energy and charisma carry Harper to a higher tier that she can’t be ignored. There is also an element within the high school scenes that the interactions feel more in touch and relatable than other depictions; even though you’re dealing with gossip it never felt like a teen “drama” or soap opera like. Aside from a drop in momentum due to some other avenues explored I really enjoyed the budding romance between the very innocent Harper and Tilly.
3 out of 5
Film will be available Friday 2/12 via iTunes