28 Up | Chicago Reader

28 Up

This British documentary is the fourth in a series that began, 21 years ago, with a report on the hopes and dreams of British schoolchildren titled 7 Up; the same children were interviewed at seven-year intervals, and this installment finds them, at 28, coming to terms with adulthood. Director Michael Apted uses footage from the previous films to illustrate how far his subjects have come (or, in many cases, failed to), and while hindsight plays a heavy role, the film does make a depressingly persuasive case for the immutability of personality—in virtually every case, the adult to come is clearly legible in the face of the child. In Britain, I suspect, the film plays as one more sad demonstration of the iron rigidity of the class system—no one succeeds in substantially altering the lot he or she was born with—while in America the movie will provide one more opportunity to shed Spielbergian tears over the loss of innocence. But no matter how it's interpreted, the film remains a deft and compelling piece.

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