The Year My Voice Broke (1987)

Genres - Drama, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Coming-of-Age, Film a Clef, Romantic Drama  |   Release Date - Aug 25, 1988 (USA)  |   Run Time - 103 min.  |   Countries - Australia  |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Filmmaker's John Duigan's breakthrough films (this and its sequel, Flirting) remain his strongest achievements, not because they attempt to do anything unusual, but because they tackle the well-worn dramatic conventions in the coming-of-age subgenre so adeptly. Danny Embling is an engaging kid, no Holden Caulfield or even Antoine Doinel, but still beholden to the same turbulent emotions that any small-town adolescent with an ounce of sensitivity would be. He sees himself as a more than a soul mate with his onetime playmate, Freya, but her hormones have found a different target, Trevor, a handsome if a bit feckless athlete who befriends Danny, leaving him even more confused. How angry can he be that the girl he loves and his pal are lovers? Duigan's film is best at portraying the impossibly tangled geometry of teenaged alliances; Danny spends one night with Freya and Trevor in an abandoned house, and the girl and her beau can't keep their hands off each other, while Danny tries to put on a brave face, even as you can see the heartbreak written all over it. This is the strongest scene in a film filled with sharply drawn characters and forcefully presented dilemmas.