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Review: Greenstick

by Tara Beckett.

It was a summer I’ll never forget…

When a young bone is bent and partially broken, it’s called a greenstick fracture. Immature bones are thick and somewhat soft, cocooned as we are in our youth from the harshness of living. As we age, our bones grow thinner and harder, stronger to cope with the realities of life. With this knowledge, it’s not surprising where the new web series from writer/director Sam Hamilton adopts its name. A gritty, unpolished look at the contemporary teenage experience, Greenstick explores the first breaks from adolescence into the adult sphere.

Hamilton, 21, describes his creation as a loose mix-breed of Skins and Six Feet Under. It’s a fairly daunting challenge to live up to on both accounts, the latter being a much acclaimed HBO series and the former a revelation in adolescent storytelling: a series about teenagers, written by teenagers, for teenagers.

Setting it apart from its inspirations is the local setting of Melbourne, Australia’s second largest and arguably most culturally elite city.

In the opening episode, we meet naive country girl Aubrey (Emily Coupe) and her supposedly reformed ex-con crush, Rick (Nicholas Tamouridis) as they prepare to move in together. They’re quickly approached by crimson-lipped girl-about-town Rumer (Laura de Iongh) who seems to have a past with Rick. She invites the pair to a “post-exams rager” she and her boyfriend are throwing that night, which they half-heartedly accept.

We’re introduced to a colourful array of partygoers, from new-and-improved pill dealing Amanda (Laura Lillywhite), adorable nerdy-cute George (Matthew Coleman) and the mysterious object of his affection, Sky (Felicity Townsend), to resident gay kid, Scott (Andy Madder) and Rumer’s ill-fated boyfriend and tortured soul, Eli (Zak Marrinan).

The series is essentially based around Eli’s suicide, which is somehow both melodramatic and intensely powerful. It showcases the strongest acting from the young cast and highlights the fragility of youth. The homage to Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums is a nice touch if you catch it.

The series is certainly not perfect; some of the editing could be cleaner and the sound clearer, certain shots seem misplaced and there are moments of clumsiness. However a lot of the dialogue is crisp and genuinely funny, intentionally so. (“Oh my god, this new flavour is, like, the best thing since Pikachu onesies!”). Furthermore, the soundtrack is really just perfect.

There’s a lot of great promise in this local production and it’s wonderful to see someone as young as Hamilton with the drive and perseverance to create and produce such an undertaking on a shoestring budget. Acting wise, the whole cast are more than competent, but Coleman and de Iongh are particularly strong, especially in the climax of the second half of the premier episode.

It’s important to note that although Rumer welcomes Aubrey to the fair city of Melbourne, Greenstick takes place away from the bright city lights and in the tumultuous world of the suburban haze where most of us are forced to come of age. These characters are just reaching the age in which the bubble that surrounds us in our formative years is stretched to breaking as the boredom of high school life becomes overwhelming in one way or another. When most of us reach this pinnacle, it’s an exciting time of exploration of self and sexuality. But for some, the pressures become too much, and xenophobia overwhelms them to self-destruction.

Greenstick is set to explore what comes after the fracture, what happens when you’re thrust from a care-free world of opulent drug and alcohol fuelled ragers and cramming for exams to the aftermath of a friend’s death.

Check out the first two-part episode here:

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