‘We don’t realise it won’t always be like this…’
Commemorating an era when life was documented on rolls of film rather than Instagram, this portrait of being 15 in the 1990s takes viewers back to when unbridled freedom reigned supreme. The English director Celia Willis’s short film centres on a whirlwind trip from her home in south London to Venice, weaving a tapestry of memories into a narrative poem that’s part lament, part celebration. Prefaced with a note about today’s technology-ridden world, the window into her youth is flavoured with the old adage that life was simpler – and certainly more fun – back then.
‘It’s the joy of doing all the things that aren’t meant for us,’ Willis says, recounting how she and some friends spontaneously booked their trip and set out on their adventure. Unbothered by the responsibilities of adulthood, their boundless trust, curiosity and innocence lead them to ‘fall in love with Italian men’ and ‘smoke and sing Bob Marley songs’ with strangers. Reenactments of teenage girls twirling around a pastel-tinted bedroom in baggy jeans and flannel shirts, together with archival imagery – including snapshots of the many handsome European men they met along the way – evoke the aesthetics of the age, imbuing the piece with an infectious, nostalgic energy. An affectionate ode to the fearlessness and enduring friendships that can characterise the teenage years, the film is a worthy trip, no matter your background – although it may leave viewers of a certain age yearning for their youth and smiling in recognition.
Director: Celia Willis