'Lane 1974': Seattle International Film Festival movie review
The poignant, coming-of-age drama "Lane 1974" (screening during the 43rd Seattle International Film Festival starting June 2) is a richly textured and atmospheric journey that feels like stepping into a time machine and landing in the mid '70s.
In short: Based on a true story, 13-year-old Lane and her two younger siblings try to find stability after their family is kicked off a Northern California commune in 1974.
"Lane 1974" captures the essence of hippie life through the eyes of the children dragged along for the ride. Lane's mother, who long ago gave up her birth name and now goes by 'Hallelujah,' is an oppressive woman self-righteous in her hippie ways. She would rather rip her children out of school than have her children eat "shit food." She is "woke" to the reality of what is "really" in food, but she is utterly incapable of knowing where her daughter will be living day-to-day. Hallelujah puts her bohemian principles above all else, even the stability and safety of her three children. The irony of Hallelujah is her self-professed rejection of "rules," while she imposes harsh and unyielding restrictions on what her "non-conformist" family is allowed to eat.
While the film exposes the impractical realities of a free-spirited, rootless existence, "Lane 1974" fundamentally asserts that children need and want just one thing in life: stability. And nothing about Lane's life is reliable. At one point Lane and a friend wonder aloud whether they will ever again see one of the other kids living on the commune.
The film's core follows Lane's increasingly bleak and desperate life, "1974" also finds Lane at the crossroads of childhood and adolescence. Lane is a girl stepping into her maturity, exploring the small joys of makeup and modern clothing -- pleasures that are counter to everything her mother would condone. While she begins to find out who she is and what she wants, Lane realizes that she is very different from her mother. The forbidden picture she keeps with her reminds Lane of her modest wants in the world.
Final verdict: This coming-of-age story, about a young girl discovering what she wants in life and how far she will go to get it, is a focused and extraordinary drama. Director S.J. Chiro brilliantly recreates a world that feels tactile and familiar, while crafting a protagonist who is absolutely accessible and relatable.
"Lane 1974" screens during SIFF 2017. The film is unrated and has a running time of 79 minutes.