Teenagers | Chicago Reader


This Soviet feature, also known as Boys and Tough Kids, was directed in 1983 by Dinara Asanova, who died soon after it was made. Set in an outdoor camp for delinquent teenage boys and based on a true story, it's part social tract, part docudrama, part fiction feature; the film veers back and forth between styles and isn't particularly coherent. Though controversial at the time of its release, it fits in well with the tradition of Soviet critiques that ascribe social problems to individual failures, thereby suggesting that the system can be reformed. Pavel, the ex-sports champ who runs the camp, is self-sacrificing, devoted, loving, and tough; the boys' problems are traced to chaotic home lives caused by parental alcoholism and worse. The camera is often handheld, presumably in an attempt to involve the viewer in the action, but instead it gives the film a home-movie feel. Still, it's hard not to root for the inevitable triumph of the boys' better instincts.

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