Articles/Movie Reviews/Other/SLC Punk! (1998)
We have all seen punks at one time or another. The typical punk will dress in a nonconformist way, such as a studded leather jacket and anarchy t-shirt with torn jeans. The punk movement goes against establishment and has its own musical genre.
This movie is all about the punk movement. Director James Merendino also wrote the script for this film, managing to capture the feel and ideology of the punk movement in a unique way. I can safely say that there is no other movie that takes on this subject and succeeds on the same level.
The film introduces its main characters in a very novel manner. Stevo is the primary character and gives narration for a good deal of the film. This helps by explaining what the characters were thinking and things that would not easily be expressed otherwise. He introduces us to his friend and roommate, Heroin Bob, and later introduces us to everyone else at a party.
From there, the film goes into its main story, which shows the past as well as the present. The primary subject is Stevo's attempts to find out who he really is after going through his youth and college as a punk. His parents want him to go to Harvard Law School, but he resists becoming a tool in the system.
Stevo is played by Matthew Lillard, in one of his most important films. His friend Heroin Bob, is played by Michael Goorjian, who remains a rather unknown actor. The dames in the film include Trish, played by Annabeth Gish, and Sandy, played by Jennifer Lien. Other smaller characters include Christopher McDonald as Stevo's dad, Jason Segel as Mike, Devon Sawa as Sean, and Til Schweiger as Mark.
This film is styled as a comedy, although there are numerous seriously dramatic scenes. It takes on serious issues, but not without some humor along the way. The balance between drama and seriousness feels very even and proper. It should also be noted that, unlike some other films, this one is actually funny. Most of the humor is dark, reminding me of the movie Fight Club in some ways.
The entire film takes place in Salt Lake City, Utah circa 1980s. The punks look seriously out of place in one of the most conservative cities in the United States, but it adds to the films appeal. The scenery is pretty impressive, with wide shots of the city and its great architecture.
Music plays a very important role in this film and is therefore played frequently. The vast majority of the music is of the punk genre, some from the early days of the punk scene and some from more modern artists. The oddball in the film is Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, which plays in a more dramatic part of the film to great effect.
The acting in the film is fantastic and I really enjoyed it. All of the characters are played in a believable fashion, although sometimes stereotypical. I was particularly impressed and surprised by Matthew Lillard's performance, particularly during the more dramatic scenes.
In conclusion, I think this is one of the finest independent films ever made. It is a very deep exploration of the punk movement as well as the changes that people go through as they mature. I would highly recommend watching this film and guarantee that you will enjoy it.