Angie is a 14-year-old Latina girl, experimenting with clothes and makeup as she ponders what high school, romance and other more “grown-up” matters hold for her. Her best friend has already seemed to unlock some of these mysteries and thrown herself into high school with abandon. But Angie remains shyer and more hesitant.
When her best friend gets the chance to go on a double date with an older high school boy she has a crush on, she pressures Angie to go. Angie is reluctant, preferring to spend time with just her friend. Her date, though, seems to be nice, and Angie relaxes to enjoy the movie and one of her first dating experiences. But that sense of enjoyment proves fleeting as Angie is maneuvered into doing things she doesn’t want to and must process the experience on her own.
Written and directed by Ines Michelena, this sensitive yet sharply astute short drama gives us an intimate, poignant look into a turning point of a young woman’s life as she navigates the precipice between childhood and adulthood. Angie enjoys the trappings of growing up, as well as the newfound freedoms of hanging out and increased independence. But that doesn’t mean she’s ready to navigate the more complicated terrain of intimate experience, though she finds herself pushed into it much more quickly than she’d like.
The writing is patient, deft and insightful, with an almost forensic ability to portray the complicated social dynamics in friendships between girls, as well as the power shifts between ages and genders in general. But what’s especially powerful is how the storytelling never loses sight of Angie’s internal feelings and the interplay between the external events she experiences and thoughts and emotions that bubble up with them.
Carefully composed shots and camera movements serve this tight internal focus, but they also strike a balance with the external drama, capturing the growing tension between Angie and her friend, and then with Zack, the boy she is paired with on the double date.
Angie is often the patient observer, a lens to watch her bolder, more confident friend jump headfirst into experiences. In a measured, often delicate performance, actor Victoria Germano captures both the anticipation and trepidation of getting older. Angie is quiet and sensitive, but she also has an internal sense of how far she truly wants to go and where she has stepped into treacherous territory. But Angie’s quietness doesn’t serve her. Her date moves faster than she has ever experienced, captured in a sequence that is excruciating in its resolute focus on Angie’s microcurrents of emotions. But she is also paralyzed — and then left to handle the fallout in silence.
Perceptive, intimate and powerful, “Angie” captures the fault lines of power and gender, starting from a young age. But true to its allegiance to Angie’s internal landscape, it’s also about the failure of friendship and the dangers of losing your voice. With great clarity of character and beautifully sensitive craftsmanship, it captures what it feels like to be not quite a girl and not yet a woman, especially in a world that asks them to grow up too fast or initiates them into experiences they’re not prepared for. The character and film have a stillness at their center, but it also captures the deafening silence that accompanies difficult and traumatic experiences, making them all the more painful to endure.