Generally favorable reviews - based on 16 Critics What's this?

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  • Summary: Teenagers didn't always exist. In this living collage of rare archival material, filmed portraits, and voices lifted from early 20th century diary entries, a struggle erupts between adults and adolescents to define a new idea of youth.
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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 16
  2. Negative: 1 out of 16
  1. Reviewed by:  Gary M. Kramer
    Mar 13, 2014
    This documentary is not a dry, academic history of youth culture, but rather a vibrant political statement that shows the powerful force of teenagers and their ability to foment social, cultural, and political change.
  2. Reviewed by:  Ali Catterall
    Jan 21, 2014
    A haunting, hypnotic collage of archive footage and period recreations charting the pre-history of the teenager.
  3. Reviewed by: Alan Scherstuhl
    Mar 11, 2014
    The old footage — newsreels, scraps of home movies — is entrancing, and even those familiar details eventually accrete with the fresh ones into something grand and stirring, especially near the conclusion.
  4. Reviewed by: Kimberley Jones
    Mar 26, 2014
    Teenage is an art film – an engrossing one at that – so it isn’t required to respect Queensberry rules vis-à-vis documentaries.
  5. Reviewed by: Jen Chaney
    May 22, 2014
    Wolf — who wrote Teenage with Jon Savage, author of “Teenage: The Creation of Youth Culture 1875-1945” — deftly weaves together various media in a way that breathes its own youthful, stream-of-conscious life into the documentary genre.
  6. Reviewed by: Neil Genzlinger
    Mar 13, 2014
    A lot of intriguing ideas are floated in Teenage... But the film takes a point of view that leaves all of them underdeveloped.
  7. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    May 22, 2014
    Regrettably, it’s terrible poetry: a roughly chronological jumble of archival footage, unconvincing period reenactments, gauzy voice-overs, and half-baked ideas that makes one yearn for the stolid dullness of a History Channel documentary.

See all 16 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 0 out of 1
  2. Negative: 0 out of 1
  1. Jan 7, 2015
    A crock of cliched tropes that generalizes, rather than fleshes out the 'teenage' experience and the evolution of the term. The films sewsA crock of cliched tropes that generalizes, rather than fleshes out the 'teenage' experience and the evolution of the term. The films sews together a narrative consisting of archival footage as well as dramatic recreations, all set to a driving dub of narration from 'teenage voices' (Most notably among the mix are Jena Malone and Ben Whishaw, two actors well past this period of youth themselves). The most interesting aspect of 'Teenage' is that the recreations are aesthetically feasible and blend fairly seamlessly into the mix of actual grainy black and white footage. The execution of 'Teenage' gives it a distinctive documentary feel, though it doesn't seem to do much at all with it. We gain no new insight to the experience of being a teenager, just a caricature of how the feelings of the children of the era were exacerbated by the conflicts of the times, forcing them to acquire a voice. The plot becomes repetitive once we adjust to the format. The narration begins to grow irritating. As a failed experiment, the one thing that is a shame above all in 'Teenage' is how strikingly dull and devoid of personality it really is when the veneer of subversive execution is pulled back. Expand