Spheeris’ depiction of Californian punks is imbued with the reasons why they are the way they are, typical of a director who is known for her interest in documentary.
Every act of rebellion is filled with reason as these punks, ranging from the age of 6 to 18, feel rejected by their own and find solace in abandoned houses with likeminded people. They become menaces in a society which rejects them because they don’t know how to control them, without the use of shotguns (#America, am I right?).
Prior to this, Spheeris filmed the Los Angeles punk scene in 1979 and 1980 for the culturally significant documentary The Decline of Western Civilization (1981) with historically significant bands such as Black Flag and X. As a result, the anarchy conjured in Suburbia seems almost natural, and not contrived, as opposed to the plethora of punk films out there which superficially recreate stereotypical punk tropes with lack lustre, causing nothing but a cringe from the audience watching.
The director successfully makes people out of punks, not just one dimensional caricatures of rebellion. Suburbia explores the range of emotions and experiences each character lives through. In one scene they can be seen terrorizing a shop keeper, yet in another they’ll be seen comforting a lost boy who has been abandoned by his parents.
director PENELOPE SPHEERIS
director of photography TIMOTHY SUHRSTEDT
cast BILL COYNE, CHRIS PEDERSEN, DEREK O'BRIEN, JENNIFER CLAY and TIMOTHY ERIC O'BRIEN
words PRIYESH PATEL
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