For anyone who is or has ever been in their 20s you will know it is a time where you will find yourself thrown into the void. Trying to figure out your plans for the future and how to support yourself suddenly become your only priority. Director and producer Lanze Spears is someone who knows this all too well and has made this short documentary about others trying to find their place in the world, forging their careers and chasing their dreams for fame, stardom, money and success.
In a series of short vignettes we meet a collection of young people from across the United States who are each pursuing their aspirations, mostly in the Arts industries. Anastasia has dreams of being an actress in LA whilst Mike is a wannabe actor come screenwriter. The film is not immensely deep, nor presses for a complex insight into their lives but gives a snapshot of what it’s like to be young, talented and struggling to take off in the big wide world.
Sean, for example, is an artist from New York and a genuinely interesting subject. He states that he’s “always wanted to be good at life” and comes across as a very charismatic, pro-active and business-minded guy exclaiming that he “dreams big” and then figures out where to start first. Like his Stateside counterparts, he has had difficulty reaching his goals due to the fickle nature of the contemporary art world. Perhaps it is worthy to note that each of the interviewees do seem to have their sights on highly competitive industries. One has to ask just how realistic their dreams really are?
As our subjects range from extremes; the cynics to the slightly wide-eyed, 20 Something demonstrates how tough it really is to get noticed in places like LA and New York where young models and actors are a dime a dozen. Whilst some have accepted that it will be something of a challenge, others show relentless confidence that they will make it.
In fact, 20 Something does a great job of highlighting the issues arising in the US youth culture that is tricky to touch upon. That all encompassing idea of the American Dream is an issue not so dissimilar to those that we’re seeing here in the UK at the moment. As amateur director Mike puts it; “A lot of people stop pursuing their dreams because they need to make money.”
That being said, this movie just falls short of living up to expectation; Spears knows how our youth feel but can’t quite define or inspire them enough with this piece.
On a plus side, Spears’s film is shot in a very art school style with shaky camera angles, scenic stills and sequences of his interviewees hanging out with friends, giving the whole project a cool indie movie sort of feel; especially coupled with a mainly alternative soundtrack featuring The Knife, Sufjan Stevens and Modeselektor. However, some of the effects added in post production are quite distracting and take away from the content slightly.
Overall, 20 Something is probably not a film that will change your life. It is more of an an ‘in the moment’ representation of the struggles of 21st century youth; a ‘you are not alone in this situation’ type of movie. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – it is still an enjoyable, interesting watch. However it would have been nice to go into more depth with some of the interviewees and perhaps follow them for a little longer to find out their rate of success after filming was wrapped.