Release Date: May 15, 2020
Director: Dan Sallitt
Production Company: Static Productions
I watched Fourteen through a virtual screening for the Brattle Theatre, in Cambridge, MA. The movie focuses on two women in their twenties who have been friends since junior high school and retain that friendship as they set out on their individual life paths in Brooklyn. Mara (Tallie Medel) is a quietly competent and driven type working as a teacher’s assistant, studying for a graduate degree, and writing a novel in her spare time. Jo (Norma Kuhling) appears more relaxed, has an acerbic wit, and works as social worker. It becomes clear early on that Mara is a caretaker, doing things like making sure that Jo isn’t chronically late for work, while Jo makes Mara push her own boundaries.
The movie is impressionist in style, showing short scenes of the two women alone and together over a decade or so. They cycle through boyfriends, jobs, and apartments with some cathartic moments thrown into the mundanity of everyday life. Over time, the two women grow apart albeit with no great precipitating event although the challenges to their relationship are evident from the start. Jo also begins a downward spiral into depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.
Fourteen is a very honest and realistic depiction of life and relationships done with excellent writing, direction, editing, and acting.