Mitchell has said he was attempting to make a film that telescoped fifty years of teenage suburban nights into one timeless quilt. It's a noble effort. Whether it strikes you as clumsy or profound may depend on your mood, because this is primarily a mood movie. Compared most often to Richard Linklater's cult classic Dazed and Confused, it harkens back stylistically more to John Cassavetes and Francois Truffaut. It's all adolescent stirrings unrealized--the kind of movie you haven't seen in a long time, where teenage boys tell girls they want to kiss them or hold hands with them (and sometimes the girls refuse), where there's no gross-out humor, no handheld shaky cam, and what passes for rebellious acting out is drinking beer, smoking cigarettes (no marijuana though!), and egging and TP'ing a house. The actors, all amateurs from Michigan, are led by the striking (star-is-born?) Claire Sloma but mostly register as typically inexpressive teens speaking clumsy lines that often fall flat. It's an awkward movie about the pinnacle of awkwardness--and, as such, a welcome antidote to what Hollywood does to pump up the vastly overrated experience of the end of adolescence. Sometimes the best experimental movies go against the grain of what's currently popular, and Sleepover certainly does: it's boldly irony free.
This review has been edited since it appeared in the October 2012 Ann Arbor Observer. The date of the showing has been corrected.
[Originally published in October, 2012.]