Sundance Journal: ‘Young and Wild’

I don’t normally feel uncomfortable while watching movies, but I did during ‘Young and Wild’. This Chilean movie is the teenage girl edition of ‘Shame’, only with, if you can believe it, more explicit sex.

Why did I feel uncomfortable? There are a couple reasons. First, the movie is about a seventeen-year-old girl who has the sexual libido of an entire high school of teenagers put together. I know that the actress portraying her is of age, but it’s still hard for me to watch a movie about an underage girl performing explicit sexual activities and not feel, more than a few times, “Should I be watching this?” The second reason has to do with the fact that I was sitting only a few seats away from the movie’s star. That’s a really weird experience, to tell you the truth. There she is, up on screen stark naked, having sex with just about everything that walks, and there I am sitting a few seats away from her. Awkward. At least it was for me.

Is ‘Young and Wild’ a bad movie? No, it’s actually a well put-together indie that makes ‘Shame’ look tame in comparison. It doesn’t pull any punches. Truthfully, I’d be surprised if it can even get away with an NC-17 rating, judging by the cut I saw. It’ll either have to be cut down for American distribution or released unrated.

The movie speaks to the internet generation. The main character uses her blog to discuss her sexual exploits with cyberspace, all the while dealing with religious pressure from her family to be baptized in their faith.

There’s a lot of youthful energy here, and the movie feels like it knows what it wants to say. It goes a bit overboard with its weird imagery and its constant sexual activity. She has sex a lot — we get it!

I didn’t hate ‘Young and Wild’, but I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t feel uncomfortable watching it. Just like ‘Shame’, it’s a tough movie to get through, made even tougher by the fact that the people you’re watching are supposed to be minors.

I don’t think there’s any way this gets wide American distribution, but I could be wrong. Either way, I don’t think I’ll ever watch it again.

Rating: ★★★☆☆


  1. JM

    How would this compare to ‘Kids,’ ‘The Dreamers,’ ‘Y Tu Mamá También,’ or ‘Shortbus’?

    It there a genuine dramatic story in this, or just lesbian sex pinball?

    Writer-director Marialy Rivas is a 35-year-old Chilean lesbian, who grew up under the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. She unleashed this film as a political response to her government.

    The catalyst was Carlos Larrain, the president of the ruling party, who made this declaration on television about a year ago:

    “Why should we support the gay community? If we did, we would have to support groups that propose relationships with children. People who support euthanasia. A wide variety of options. People who want sex with animals. There is literature on this. Zoophiles. So I don’t believe a country’s policies should work for alternative sexual preferences.”

    Did ‘Young & Wild’ feel like propaganda, candy-coated in pornography?

    If the first time you saw this was on blu-ray with your wife, would you still anchor your review around the theme of uncomfortableness?

    • Aaron Peck

      Wow. I think I’d be even more uncomfortable watching this with my wife.

      It’s as graphic as any of those sex-themed movies you mentioned.

      The story comes from a girl who actually went through all of this and wrote it on her blog. The actual girl portrayed in the movie was at the screening too.

      The reason why I didn’t hate it was that the drama behind the sex-filled scenes is actually pretty tugging. The whole religion vs. sex thing works to its advantage. I couldn’t shake the uncomfortable feeling though.

      There’s no way this gets released in America with this cut though. Absolutely no way.

      • JM

        You mean theatrical release. They wouldn’t censor the blu-ray…?

        Is the image quality weak, like ‘The Raid,’ where they shot it on cheap film, or could they get a 5-star transfer out of this, like ‘The Tree Of Life’?

        • Aaron Peck

          Yes. The theatrical release. It’ll be like ‘Enter the Void’. There’s just no way an American audience goes to see this movie in the unedited cut. Not a lot of them anyway.

          As for the quality this is a very experimental film. There are shots that are crystal clear like they were filmed digitally (like the picture on the post) then there are scenes that look like 16mm. Lots of different filters. All sorts of stuff that really plays with the image. Not good or bad, but it isn’t going to look like ‘The Tree of Life.’ Simply because of its experimental nature and the constant changing visuals, the movie won’t look as pristine as ‘TOL’ on Blu-ray.

  2. JM

    Rosario Dawson and Eva Green post-sexy rocketed to international movie stardom.

    Does Alicia Rodríguez have the je ne sais quoi to become the next Angelina Jolie, or will she fade into obscurity with the rest of the unremarkable naked indie girls?

    Is Marialy Rivas the next Kevin Smith?

    All the ‘Young & Wild’ buzz seems to be shock at the explicitness, but there doesn’t seem to a sense that we’ve discovered a sexy new talent.

  3. Floyd

    Are the sex scenes just random? Do they just begin showing sex? Or are there scenes drawing into it? Car sex? Kissing and undressing or is it just 100% straight into it?

    • Aaron Peck

      It varies. There are some scenes where the sex starts and then we’re off to something else. There’s other scenes where you actually see erect penises and then her sit on top of it. There is one particular lesbian scene that is damn near watching a full-fledged porno.

      • Floyd

        Are there any scenes where they are simulating sex while clothed? Perhaps bottomless only? Or do they actually show her taking off her panties, ect? Or are there more tame sex scenes with just wrapped around legs and thumping against walls, in cars, ect like most films?

  4. JM

    Between ‘Young & Wild’ and ‘Nude Nuns With Big Guns’ you seem kind of anti-naked.

    Are there any NC-17 films of the excessively sexual variety that you admire as cinematic works of high art?

    Or is ‘Titanic’ as much sideboob as you’re comfortable with in a public venue?

    • Aaron Peck

      Not anti-naked at all. I thought ‘Shame’ was a great movie with fantastic performances.

      I’m not a prude at all. The reason why I didn’t like ‘Nude Nuns with Big Guns’ is that its nudity is “bad naked” like I said in my review. Plus it was just naked for naked sake with no thought of how or why it was being included.

      In ‘Young and Wild’ it’s different. I’m torn. I didn’t say it was a bad movie, but for myself it’s uncomfortable watching something, that if it did actually involve kids of that age, I could get arrested for. That’s what was disconcerting about that movie.

      • JM

        How about the burst of nudity in ‘Drive’?

        It fit the location, but was shot all fetish-y.

        Do you consider that “good naked”?

        It’s ironic your first thought was ‘Shame.’

        The theme of which is that uncontrolled sex is destructive.