Review: All This Panic

The Parkway hits the ground running with this documentary about teenage girldom in all its wonderful complexity and mystery.

By Max Weiss | May 12, 2017, 12:36 pm


Review: All This Panic

The Parkway hits the ground running with this documentary about teenage girldom in all its wonderful complexity and mystery.

By Max Weiss | May 12, 2017, 12:36 pm

Now that the Maryland Film Festival is over, the Parkway Theatre is officially open for business. Along with a roster of expertly curated repertory films (this week look for Female Trouble, Mulholland Drive, and Fassbender’s Fox and His Friends, among others), the programmers have promised to bring us lesser known contemporary films that never made it to Baltimore.

A perfect example is the wonderful 2016 documentary All This Panic, which is one of the “emerging films” debuting at the Parkway this week. Directed by Jenny Gage and shot by her husband Tom Betterton, the documentary follows three years in the lives of a group of teenage girls who attend LaGuardia High School in Manhattan (and later college). With apologies to Britney Spears, never has the phrase “not a girl, not yet a woman” been more apt, as we watch these girls swerve wildly from thoughtful reflections on friendship, privilege, and growing up to giggling over boys (and girls) and makeup. The years Gage and Betterton spent with the girls clearly paid off, as the teens have zero affect and are simply living in front of the camera (drugs and alcohol are ubiquitous and seen as no big deal). Many of the girls are going through a crisis—the precocious Lena, who has just been accepted to Sarah Lawrence, has two unstable parents and a troubled brother; the self-possessed Sage just lost her father and she dreams of him and feels haunted by his presence; beautiful Ginger, who may or may not want to be an actress, just graduated and is feeling adrift. All of the girls are street smart, wise behind their years—they attribute this to living in New York City—but they’re still kids. “I’m terrified of getting old,” moans Ginger’s sister, Dusty. “I’m terrified of someone saying I look too old for that outfit!” In one scene, Ginger gets enraged with her father after he simply points out that she hasn’t been motivated to find work since graduating. While these teens are dealing with some genuinely heavy stuff, everything is emotional for them—the film serves as a wonderful reminder of how life and death even the smallest thing can seem when you’re in your teens. On top of being entertaining, illuminating, and affecting, the film is beautifully shot—with gorgeous, hazy light and painterly framing—it looks like a narrative feature. (One critic compared it to The Virgin Suicides, and the film does seem to explicitly nod to Sofia Coppola’s work.) I can’t imagine the discipline it took to turn three years of footage into an 80 minute film, but the results here speak for themselves.


Meet The Author
Max Weiss is the managing editor of Baltimore and a film and pop culture critic.

You May Also Like

Arts & Culture

Richard Chizmar Co-Authored Book with Stephen King

The Bel Air writer discusses 30 years of writing horror and suspense stories.

Arts District

Baker Artist Awards Recognizes Six Area Artists

Pedal steel guitarist Susan Alcorn wins largest, $40,000 prize


Review: Baywatch

It's not safe to go into these waters.

Food & Drink

You Are Here

Scenes from the Bel-Loc Diner and UnPub 7 at the Baltimore Convention Center.

The Chatter

Cloud Computing Races to Glory at 142nd Preakness Stakes

Horse owned by Baltimore native eliminates possibility of a Triple Crown victory.

Connect With Us

Most Read

Sip Tips: May 2017
Celebrate the season of dirt under the fingernails with these organically grown libations.

Cameo: Molly Gallant
We talk to the outdoor recreation programmer for Baltimore City Recreation & Parks.

New Turf
Former Raven opens unique gym experience in Catonsville.

The Great Outdoors
52 places to hike, bike, and paddle without leaving town.

Del Yeah!
DelFest is Western Maryland’s bluegrass Bonnaroo—and its best-kept secret.