Totally (1993)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Gay & Lesbian Films  |   Run Time - 79 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Brian J. Dillard

This manifesto for, and paean to, the post-AIDS, post-show tunes, post-separatist gay and lesbian youth of the 1990s marks the first installment of writer/director Gregg Araki's "teen apocalypse trilogy." "Teen angst" might be a better descriptor here, though, for the in-your-face whininess of these characters may be hard to take for both heterosexual viewers and for gay men and lesbians who grew up in an era when visibility and sexual availability weren't such givens. The teens of Araki's world are seemingly parentless -- rejected by or rejecting both their own families and earlier generations of homosexuals who would tell them what it means to be gay. There's plenty of comedy in these kids' quest for self-definition, but there's also a lot of melodrama, and Araki's punky, low-budget production values don't provide much perspective or nuance. In interviews, Araki has explicated the influence of Jean-Luc Godard's Masculin/Feminin on his film, and Totally F***ed Up certainly has the talkiness of French New Wave down pat. In the end, Araki's film probably speaks best to people who are most like its protagonists -- teens coming to terms with the cruelties of the wider world and of their own subculture. Whether the specificity with which Araki depicts his characters' conflicts limits his film's long-term appeal is a question for audiences in the future to answer.