Review: Teenage (12A)

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When do children stop being children? And how long should children be allowed to be children?

Two questions of disarming depth, and both answered via a century (and more) of testimonies from the kids of the past who, for a whole variety of reasons, had their childhood snatched away.

Teenage (by co-writer/director Matt Wolf) is an unusual film. Part documentary, part oral history project, it attempts to give a contemporary voice to the millions of youngsters who, in the name of industry, agriculture or conflict were snatched from the embrace of childhood.Through archive material, diary entries and those stark monochrome pictures from the past, a range of actors give life to their words.

The message is often a grim one made more so by the veracity of the reminiscences. It makes for often-painful listening/viewing. Among the famous names lending their collective voice are Jena Malone and Ben Whishaw.

But in amongst the grainy images of hard-faced urchins are more modern examples of teens being attacked for their forward-looking ways. In 1930s Germany it was the swing kids – young jazz fans – who caught the eye of the Nazis.

On limited release