Whatever | Chicago Reader

Whatever

Many stories about the difficulty of growing up blame the main character's plight on secondary characters who are little more than devices. In this powerful coming-of-age story writer-director Susan Skoog does identify the influences on Anna (Liza Weil), whose last year of high school is less than rosy, but she makes the interactions complex. Anna's best friend Brenda (Chad Morgan) is high maintenance—repeatedly making herself vulnerable to sexual exploitation, then passively relying on Anna to minimize the consequences. The bond between the two young women, desperate to begin lives away from their families, is as clear when Brenda gives Anna advice about makeup as it is in the many more dire moments. Though Brenda's motives are conveniently explained, as are those of Anna's opportunistic mother, these characters affect Anna with as little predictability as a surprisingly unstereotypical bad boy she meets.

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