* Viewed at the Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival
On odd choice for the festival, Teenage Cocktail is mostly a coming of age story of two young girls Annie (Nichole Bloom) and Jules (Fabianne Therese). It does turn very dark in the final third of the film, but for the most part it could be a Lifetime tv movie about first love between two girls.
Anne is the new girl at school, shy and awkward she doesn’t fit in or make any friends, until she meets the much more outgoing Jules. Jules introduces her to her friends, and to partying, drugs and sex. Along the way their friendship deepens and they begin their own romance. She also introduces Anne to webcam modeling, which is how she makes her party money. Deciding to pool their money to get out of town, everything looks good until one of their classmates finds out and spreads their pictures around school. Needing fast money to get away immediately, they agree to meet a regular viewer, Frank (Pat Healy), this horrible consequences.
The film starts near the end then loops back to let us see how it got to that point before finishing the story. While this does tell us something is eventually going to happen, it also makes sitting through all the teen drama even harder. I should also mention that despite the partying, drugs, sex and webcam modeling there’s no nudity. I’ll leave it to the individual to decide if that’s taking a non-exploitative approach or wimping out.
The film does have it’s good points however. There’s several enjoyable songs on the soundtrack, there’s great chemistry between the leads, their relationship seem genuine not forced. And Pat Healy gives a great performance as Frank, he actually makes us feel sympathy at times for this webcam addicted loser. He comes off less as a pervert than he does somebody desperate for some kind of escape from a dead end job and miserable marriage. It also makes how everything goes to shit that much harder to take.
Maybe if I’d seen Teenage Cocktail under different circumstances I’d have liked it better. But as part of a festival like this I was expecting much more of a dark thriller. Instead I got a coming of age film with a last act that however dark and well filmed it is feels almost tacked on.