In the tradition of Nicholas Ray's Rebel Without a Cause, writer/director Susan Skoog's fiercely honest debut feature WHATEVER occupies the chaotic realm where adolescence is old ground, but maturity has no map. It's that territory where each moment seeks out a thrill, each risk is embraced with false bravado or casual abandon, and the prospect of becoming an adult is both thrilling and terrifying.
WHATEVER is a bold, retro exploration into rights of passage, set in the 1980's and sculpted by Skoog with the courage and unexpected resilience of its protagonist.
Aspiring painter Anna Stockard (Liza Weil) longs for escape. Escape from the anonymous New Jersey town she's grown in, but desperately wants to grow out of. Escape from the disheveled home she shares with her taunting little brother and a defeated and lonely mother. Escape from virginity and a woefully predictable life. She scavengers the mailbox daily for a scholarship offer from the prestigious Manhattan art school Cooper Union, convinced that rebellion and adventure is the apprentice to great art.
Who better to trot Anna on the wild side than her best friend, the troubled, reckless Brenda (Chad Morgan). She is the Pied Piper to parties awash in alcohol. To the frustrated painter Martin (Mark Riffon), a former infatuation of Anna's who has returned from a quietly futile foray into the world. And to Zak (Dan Montano) and Woods (John G. Connolly), sexy young men who share a fast car, a slow future and the wrong experience. Anna and Brenda find romance, risk and adventure - often coming out on the wrong end of trouble. Ultimately, Anna will learn some of the most difficult and important lessons of her life, and find the threshold of who she wants to be.
WHATEVER stars Liza Weil, in a terrific debut lead performance as the tough but vulnerable Anna; with an equally affecting performance by Chad Morgan as Brenda. Frederic Forrest inhabits Anna's patient mentor and art teacher, Mr. Chaminsky. Kathryn Rossetter lends a poignant performance as Anna's divorced mother, a woman who knows all too well the conflict between love and dreams. Dan Montano and John G. Connolly play Zak and Woods, the two leather-jacketed hoods who prove to be an irresistible attraction for the girls. And Gary Wolf plays Eddie, Anna's cynical boy-pal afflicted with a youthful delight in getting high, but gifted with an old soul's sense of loyalty.
WHATEVER is written, directed and co-produced by Susan Skoog, whose previous short film, A DRY HEAT, screened at the Cannes, Hamptons, Vancouver and Seattle Film Festivals, among others. Produced by Ellin Baumel, Michelle Yahn, Kevin Segalla and Skoog, WHATEVER is executive-produced by Jim and Ted Pedas, Bill Durkin and George P. Pelecanos of the renowned independent film company, Circle Films. Previous Circle productions include the oen Brothers' RAISING ARIZONA, MILLER'S CROSSING and BARTON FINK, as well as Robert M. Young's CAUGHT. Irwin Young of Duart Films is also an Executive Producer. Other creative principals collaborating on WHATEVER include Michael Barrow (HEAVY, CAUGHT, SUNDAY) and Michael Mayers (DENISE CALLS UP, SPANKING THE MONKEY, CAFE SOCIETY) as Directors of Photography and Editor Sandy Guthrie. The film's evocative soundtrack includes songs by the Pretenders, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, The Ramones, Blondie, Roxy Music, the Jam, Rush and Patti Smith.
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