While last year’s Booksmart was considered a female take on Superbad, there hasn’t been a film like Antarctica since Ghost World. It would be more accurate to say Antarctica is descended from the DNA of Ghost World, with 20 years and a million miles between the experiences of the female characters in those movies. The culture has shifted enormously, and yet, Janet and Kat are still familiar characters while representing the uniqueness of their generation. Their stories become more compelling when they are tossed into the deep end, unceremoniously forced to deal with complex adult issues before they should have to.
That the movie is written and directed by a man, Keith Bearden, comes as a surprise. The authenticity of the teen lives portrayed is so dead-on that it feels autobiographical. Bearden has tapped into the angst of the times beautifully.
“…that the movie is written and directed by a man…comes as a surprise.”
Bearden says of his second feature film, “Antarctica is a movie that I’ve waited my whole life to make. I wanted it to be a movie for teens and anyone who remembers being one, inspired by the smart, funny women who I have met throughout my life and the intimate friendships they share. I am confident the story of Kat and Janet will connect with a wide audience.”
Levine and Muroya (in her film acting debut) are perfect as Kat and Janet. The dialogue and action move along crisply, with no wasted motion. As the weight of their troubles drags them down, the initial bright banter fades, but there are still golden moments of snarky, quotable lines throughout. Bearden’s comedic timing is impeccable, and he’s captured some of the same absurdities of school and suburban life that John Hughes did in the 1980s while managing to wrap the humor in social commentary about new challenges teens face growing up in the 2020s.
Antarctica is a rare gem that stands as one of this year’s best.
"…a rare gem that stands as one of this year's best."