Streetwise | Chicago Reader

Streetwise

91 minutes

Martin Bell, Mary Ellen Mark, and Cheryl McCall collaborated on this 1984 documentary about a group of homeless teenagers in Seattle who live as thieves, drug dealers, prostitutes, or panhandlers. The filmmakers have captured some remarkable details, particularly in the confrontations between parents and children (a mother who says her prostitute daughter is "just going through a phase," a father who casually poses his can of Coke atop his son's coffin), yet the raw material has been arranged to build to conventionally sentimental (and uncomfortably exploitative) climaxes. The film's way of combining sensationalism and social concern would make it seem right at home as a sweeps-week series on the local news.

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