Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Fame High

Conventional but involving documentary follows four teens hoping to make it in the performing arts.

June 5, 2013

-By John DeFore


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1378218-Fame-High-Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

An ordinary look at four extraordinary kids, Scott Hamilton Kennedy's Fame High sticks firmly to convention but will please viewers who can't help but want the doc's sympathetic teens to escape the heartbreak most would-be artists face. Small screens are the most appropriate venue for this look at a performing-arts high school in Los Angeles.

Following four students through a single school year at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, Kennedy offers a satisfying balance of student and parent interviews with fly-on-the-wall looks at classes that barely resemble those in conventional schools. His subjects are remarkably driven, whether that drive comes from parents—freshman pianist Zak seems almost forced into performing by his father, who sees jazz stardom as a means of escaping borderline poverty—or in spite of them—like Grace, whose Korean-American parents say they'll only keep supporting her ballet dreams if she's accepted to Juilliard after high school.

Singer/instrumentalist Brittany's parents, touchingly, believe in her talent so strongly they've temporarily split up to support her—Mom moving from Wisconsin to live with Brittany in L.A. while the rest of the family stays behind. They keep in touch with daily phone calls while trying to figure out how the budding songwriter can go pro. Compared to this, redheaded actress Ruby—whose parents are both performers themselves—seems to have it made.

All four are likeable kids who demonstrate impressive gifts, and it's easy to imagine any of them succeeding. Though the year holds no major disasters for them, little challenges show how easily a budding career might flounder—even voluntarily, as when Ruby lands a professional theatre gig only to hate how it forces her to spend time away from friends.

A couple of the subjects flirt with failure, offering minor but compelling drama, but the most involving narrative strand here is Grace's longing for a romantic life her parents won't allow. The parallels with challenges she faces as a dancer, tending to be stiffly perfect instead of freely passionate, are so clear you'd think a screenwriter sketched them out.
The Hollywood Reporter


Film Review: Fame High

Conventional but involving documentary follows four teens hoping to make it in the performing arts.

June 5, 2013

-By John DeFore


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1378218-Fame-High-Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

An ordinary look at four extraordinary kids, Scott Hamilton Kennedy's Fame High sticks firmly to convention but will please viewers who can't help but want the doc's sympathetic teens to escape the heartbreak most would-be artists face. Small screens are the most appropriate venue for this look at a performing-arts high school in Los Angeles.

Following four students through a single school year at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, Kennedy offers a satisfying balance of student and parent interviews with fly-on-the-wall looks at classes that barely resemble those in conventional schools. His subjects are remarkably driven, whether that drive comes from parents—freshman pianist Zak seems almost forced into performing by his father, who sees jazz stardom as a means of escaping borderline poverty—or in spite of them—like Grace, whose Korean-American parents say they'll only keep supporting her ballet dreams if she's accepted to Juilliard after high school.

Singer/instrumentalist Brittany's parents, touchingly, believe in her talent so strongly they've temporarily split up to support her—Mom moving from Wisconsin to live with Brittany in L.A. while the rest of the family stays behind. They keep in touch with daily phone calls while trying to figure out how the budding songwriter can go pro. Compared to this, redheaded actress Ruby—whose parents are both performers themselves—seems to have it made.

All four are likeable kids who demonstrate impressive gifts, and it's easy to imagine any of them succeeding. Though the year holds no major disasters for them, little challenges show how easily a budding career might flounder—even voluntarily, as when Ruby lands a professional theatre gig only to hate how it forces her to spend time away from friends.

A couple of the subjects flirt with failure, offering minor but compelling drama, but the most involving narrative strand here is Grace's longing for a romantic life her parents won't allow. The parallels with challenges she faces as a dancer, tending to be stiffly perfect instead of freely passionate, are so clear you'd think a screenwriter sketched them out.
The Hollywood Reporter
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

The Congress
Film Review: The Congress

Part live-action, part cornea-searing animation, this cinematic overload is ambitious but ultimately fatigues as it plays with the intriguing notion of a fading Hollywood star selling rights so her cyberspace avatar can rise to superstardom and stay forever young in virtual reality. Flashy animation and cynical stabs at celebrity culture and movie-studio finagling keep things lively for a while. More »

The Last of Robin Hood
Film Review: The Last of Robin Hood

Serviceable vehicle for a salacious story. More »

Last Weekend
Film Review: Last Weekend

A sort of modern Chekhovian study of family tensions over a country weekend, this indie drama is very pretty to look at and at times disarming, but needed more punch. More »

The Notebook
Film Review: The Notebook

An aloof adaptation of Agota Kristof's best-seller that's technically impressive but precludes audience identification. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For
Film Review: Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Neither significantly better nor worse than its predecessor, the belated Sin City sequel is more of a repeat, rather than a continuation, of the original. More »

If I Stay
Film Review: If I Stay

Delivers as promised. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here