Arresting Gena | Chicago Reader

Arresting Gena

Gena (Aesha Waks) meets Jane (Summer Phoenix), who's just blown back into town, in the alley where all the kids hang out. Gena's mother is temporarily out of the picture, though Gena lies about the reason. Perhaps without realizing it, she's looking for someone less complicated to care about, but she finds Jane, who's unreliable and exciting. Jane needs someone to take the place of her older brother Sonny (Sam Rockwell), who's unexpectedly turned cold, and in no time the teenage girls are tightly connected. Then Gena meets Caller (Kirk Acevedo), a friend and business partner of Sonny's, and becomes peripherally involved in one of their drug deals. Writer-director Hannah Weyer keeps control of the extreme scenes in this 1996 movie by being convincing with the quieter ones, and we get to know Gena well enough to accept the shifts in tone when she and Jane tangle with an undercover police officer or when she confronts Sonny after Jane disappears. Weyer's portrait makes believable and comprehensible some apparently self-destructive things this teenager does in pursuit of thrills and emotional connections.

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