Actor Jonah Hill (Superbad, The Wolf of Wall Street) makes an impressive directorial debut with Mid90s, an affecting coming-of-age drama. Set in Los Angeles of the 1990s, Hill's movie – which he also wrote – follows Stevie (Sunny Suljic), a lonesome 13-year-old living with his single mom (Katherine Waterston) and his bully of a big brother (Lucas Hedges). To escape his monotonous home life, Steve begins hanging out at a Skateboard shop and quickly becomes friends with the crew that hangs out there. These kids are slackers who smoke pot, drink, and want to just skate and party. You can say that they are a bad influence on Stevie, but one member of the gang, Ray (Na-kel Smith), has more aspirations than just hanging out at the shop for the rest of his life and shares his philosophies with Stevie.
There isn't much plot here, but that doesn't matter because it's a character study and Hill, using a documentary style and many non-professional actors (who are all very good), does a fantastic job of pulling us deep into this skateboarding culture. The story of a rebellious boy paired with the naturalistic approach reminds me of François Truffaut's 1959 French New Wave drama The 400 Blows as well as the 1953 American movie Little Fugitive, which was a direct influence on the French New Wave.
Like those movies, Mid90s is a gem, and I can't wait to see Hill's next directorial effort.