Senior Year is a pretty cool ode to Clueless

New films this weekend include abortion drama Happening, comedy Rebel Wilson Senior Year and Stephen King adaptation Firestarter


Courtesy of TIFF

Event

(Audrey Diwan)

The recent ruckus on Roe v. Wade makes the Happening more topical than expected. But the heartbreaking story of a smart and electric young French student (Anamaria Vartolomei) in the early ’60s seeing her opportunities and freedoms diminish when she becomes pregnant is powerful even without that context. Vartolomei gives a wonderfully precise performance of restrained vitality, as his Anne explores all the gruesome avenues for terminating a pregnancy at a time when abortions were criminalized. As pictured, these moments feel honest, heartbreaking, and possibly triggering. But Happening goes deeper as a beautiful coming-of-age story, where Anne’s long quest to end the pregnancy is also about self-discovery. Fighting for her bodily autonomy becomes a sadly formative experience that shapes who she is and indicates what she wants to become. Subtitle. 99 mins. Play NOW at TIFF Bell Lightbox. NNNNN

A scene from Senior Year, which is covered in movie reviews
Boris Martin/Netflix

Secondary year

(Alex Hardcastle)

Rebel Wilson stars in a pretty cool ode to high school movies from her high school days, from Clueless to Never Been Kissed. His Stephanie is a late millennial who wakes up from a 20-year coma in 2022, the result of a cheerleading hoops toss gone wrong. She returns to high school to complete her senior year, trying to relive her popular high school days, which to her feel like yesterday, and achieve her goals as prom queen. The comedy gets a lot out of its time jump. Those who went to high school when Avril Lavigne’s S Club Party and Sk8er Boi topped the charts will feel their 2002 selves processing 2022, wrapping our heads around the new popularity metrics thanks to social media and vastly different conversations about the world. inclusiveness taking place in high school hallways. But Senior Year also goes for a sentimental kick about celebrating your true self that Rebel Wilson just can’t land. His performance cannot sell sincerity. 111 mins. NOW playing on Netflix. NNN

A scene from Firestarter
Ken Woroner/Universal Pictures

Fire starter

(Keith Thomas)

Local audiences may be delighted to see the architecture of the U of T Scarborough bomb shelters used as a facility imprisoning and experimenting on extraordinarily gifted people. Although this Toronto-shot adaptation of Stephen King’s 1980 novel about a young girl who can control fire is a slow whimper of a movie. Lazily written and featuring CGI that betrays incompetence or a meager budget, the film, which stars Zac Efron and Ryan Kiera Armstrong as Family X on the run from dark government types, is proof that the post- Stephen King’s Stranger Things is dying out. At least this one is thankfully short. 94 mins. NOW playing in theaters. NOT

Also opening in theaters this week

Memory

Tilda Swinton; directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul

Also play on Disney+

Sneakerella

Chosen Jacobs, Lexi Underwood, Devyn Nekoda; directed by Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaum

Streaming guides

Everything on streaming platforms this month:

netflix

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