Disillusioned by teen-film clichés, acclaimed director Michael Cuesta has an uncanny ability for portraying the darkest side of adolescence without becoming exploitative. In his latest film, 12 and Holding (which premiered at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival), Cuesta demonstrates how the suffocating insularity of suburban life can result in tragedy.

The world of 12 and Holding is seen through the eyes of characters who are no longer children but not yet adults. Their motivations are frank, somewhat primordial and often frightening, yet these young people never become symbols for society’s ills; their actions are consistent and psychologically pure, their lives invested with dignity and pathos.

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