This Showtime doc shows these teenagers are people, too.
Teenagers these, days say, the darndest or damnedest things. They know when to drop F bombs, break the rules (drinking, sex, etc.), and when to express themselves freely. Movies like “Superbad,” “Eighth Grade,” and “Dazed and Confused,” for example, have shown us the adolescence of their worlds, and I was a teenager, too. And why teens wear jeans with holes in them is beyond me. Maybe that’s a way for them to be comfortable in them, I don’t know. I’m not a jeans guy. Anyway, the made-for-Showtime doc “Cusp” shows us three teenage girls, and their realities of cursing, underage drinking, good or bad parents, and how they live their lives.
The setting is Texas in the summer, and there is no story. It’s a documentation of how the following teenage girls transcend into adulthood. We meet the blonde Jennifer, who prefers to hang out with older people than with people her age (“I ****** hate teenagers,” she says); Aaloni, who has taken therapy, because of her mom and hateful dad; and Autumn, who thinks before she leaps, by not drinking at parties. These three subjects are examples of the good and bad choices teenagers have made and will always make. It all depends on how they lead their lives.
Among the troubles during the end of the summer, Jennifer just got dumped by her boyfriend Justin, and moves on with Jaeden, who is older than her. Aaloni acknowledges that girls don’t know how to say to “no” to guys when it comes to sex, as if they think they’re more dominant than girls. Autumn’s father was in the military half her life, so he believes she and her siblings are peasants in his castle. Not a good sign.
“Cusp” doesn’t grab everything about the three teenagers, but it does allow them to use their words wisely, and it does capture their adolescence in the early 2020s. You know how it is with their choice of music, partying, relationships, and families. Directors Isabel Bethencourt and Parker Hill both make this doc with the right kind of atmosphere and ambiance to reflect on the girls’ personalities and ambitions. They even earned the Special Jury Award at the Sundance Film Festival for this feature.
Being a 90s kid, I still have trouble grasping where the next generation of kids is heading into. They can do stupid and reckless stuff, but on the other hand, they can lead productive lives, and have fun at the same time. It’s kind of their job to be stupid and learn at the same time. One thing leads to another in good or bad ways, and when you see them documented in fiction or nonfiction, you can easily get sucked into their worlds. “Cusp” wants us to get sucked into Jennifer, Aaloni, and Autumn’s worlds, and they each have fascinating and challenging stories to tell.
When movies and shows capture what’s going on in their own eras (because movies come in different generations), you can easily relate to their activities and choices. Or you’re learning from their activities and choices. But you still shouldn’t think you’re better than them. You should sympathize the teens, because they do offer good-natured qualities, and stepping stones to lead them there.
Now Playing in Select Theaters
Premieres November 26 on Showtime