Totally F***ed Up (1993) – Film Review

The first instalment of Greg Araki’s 'Teenage Apocalypse Trilogy'...

Totally F****d Up, the first instalment of what is commonly referred to as Greg Araki’s ‘Teenage Apocalypse Trilogy’, gives us perhaps one of Araki’s most honest and brutal pieces. In his own words Araki describes his motivation for making the film as a mixture of impetuses. A disproportionate number of gay suicides compared to those of heterosexual persons, as well as individual cases of death and other institutionalised homophobia all spurred the production of Totally F****d Up on, to help combat this by means of showing not a definitive truth for all gay teens, but a truth, of how bad life can be.

As 19 year old Andy opens the film with his echoing words ‘I guess you could say I’m totally fucked up’, we are instantly thrown into a word of constant hardships and pain. The teenagers within Araki’s reality are victims in all senses of the word; thrown out from their homes, alienated from society, even the most mundane of activities push them further and further away from our own visions of normality. Spilt into fifteen different clips, Totally F****d Up tackles a range of different issues such as aids, sex, love and purity through several contrasting cinematic mediums.

A mixture of straight-acted clips, self-documentary style and public service adverts all combine together to create both an aesthetically engaging medium and a vivid, realistic portrait of the reality of life for some homosexual teenagers. The split between action and clips, some almost documentary, others visually hard hitting and graphic, coupled with the use of titles all the way through, gives the piece its uniquely grainy, realistic feel as it revolves slowly around several key issues and characters.

In Araki’s revolving presentation of both issues and characters, one can identify no clear protagonist and no issue which overshadows another, in an entirely interlinked and real universe. Araki presents us with a complete and whole picture of the lives of his characters, from alienation in its most mundane form, such as board games, to the deep and complex relationships between them. Despite the evident severity of the situation, there are still moments of comedy and even the heart warming. Everything within the film speaks volumes; for example the extensive foul language which characterises the teenagers simultaneously shows the hard-hitting realities of the life which they live as well as the immaturities which still characterise them.

Yet despite his evident focus upon the struggles of those gay teenagers, Araki puts a strong focus on the universality of their problems and those which we encounter in our everyday life. In the words of Andy, ‘I hate everything that homo’s are supposed to like’. Whether it’s two people trying for a baby, a cheating partner or the struggle to be accepted, there’s a certain vitality and life which emanates from Araki’s characters, making Totally F****d Up above all, a very human tale.


Best line: Michelle and Patricia – ‘No matter where I am I just like to close my eyes and pretend I’m in paradise’.
‘Don’t you bump into things?’

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