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Smithereens

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Critics' Reviews

AMG Review
Andrea LeVasseur
Susan Seidelman's independent debut Smithereens marks the filmmaker at her unconventional best. Like a crudely executed retelling of Truffaut's The 400 Blows, the story is a self-analyzing character study of Wren (Susan Berman), a struggling would-be star trying to make a name for herself in New York. With minimal skills and no support structure, Wren lives by her own witty, lighthearted efforts to validate her existence. She spouts off cynical lines that could be in any early-'80s dialogue, but her underlying hopelessness is uniquely presented. In failure after failure, Wren continues to persist in brightly colored fishnets and sneakers, only to meet with an enigmatic freeze-frame ending. The images are too dark and the sound is pretty bad, however, the lack of technical polish doesn't detract from the emotional impact. The New York punk soundtrack, featuring Richard Hell, is especially effective in capturing Wren's bleak desperation combined with her frantic survival. Seidelman creates in Wren a tragic hero, who is both funny and sad in her attempts at self-promotion. After the release of Smithereens, Seidelman would move away from personal drama for a more mainstream and profitable career in comedies. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, Rovi
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