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  • The Bearden of Knowledge

I Saw the TV Glow

Dir. Jane Schoenbrun (2024)

A canceled television show forms a friendship between two teenagers.


Today, we have a coming of age film directed by Jane Schoenbrun (We're All Going to the World's Fair) that actually has something to say about life and relationships.


We start off with a young boy named Owen, an isolated, shy boy with no friends who is played by Justice Smith (Jurassic World: Dominion). Owen's a 7th grader and, by chance, he meets 9th grader Maddy played by Brigette Lundy-Paine (Bill and Ted Face The Music) reading an episode guide book of a Young Adult TV show called The Pink Opaque. The two hit it off, and Maddy invites Owen over one Saturday evening to watch an episode of the show. Owen does and finds himself captivated by the show, which is a bit like the CW's Charmed. It follows two girls named Tara and Isabel who have psychic powers and fight evil led by a monster named Mr. Melancholy.

There's a time jump of two years, and we find out through narration that Owen and Maddy haven't spoken since that evening. We find out Owen's mom has a terminal illness, and due to his bedtime and an overbearing father, Owen's not allowed to stay up and watch The Pink Opaque. Maddy secretly tapes episodes and silently leaves them for Owen at school. He eventually works up the nerve to talk to her and gets invited over for another watch. Again, he accepts, and during the episode, he notices Maddy crying. She insists that she will die if she stays in that town and vows to run away, begging Owen to come with her. He agrees but gets frightened and backs out. Maddy disappears, and shortly after, Owen's mother passes away, and The Pink Opaque is canceled.

Boy, where to start with this one? First off, the imagery is amazing! Surreal at most times, you often wonder, as Owen gets older, where the line of reality and the show he's obsessed with begin and end. The music also fits the tone perfectly. Somber and haunting. I think the problem most people will have with this will be the pacing. This is a slow burn in every sense. Oftentimes, it is quiet for minutes at a time as the camera lingers on Owen, working up the nerve to say anything at all. Considering how emotionally damaged these two characters are, I'd say the dialogue is realistic. Stilted at times, with either Owen or Maddy fumbling over the right thing to say or how to say it.

The two leads did a fantastic job in that regard. I rather enjoyed it, but I know I will probably be in the minority on this one, and that's ok. If you're a fan of slow burn coming-of-age films, I think you'll enjoy it. Bottom line, this is a film that follows a boy's entire life. (There's another 8 year time jump, and a massive 20 year time jump at the end). It plods along at a snail's pace, but personally I found it endearing and thought provoking, and it will linger with me for a bit. I don't know if I'd personally call it a horror film as the "horror" elements are light. But I thought it was a fantastic and well-made film that emphasizes more the horrors of real life.  

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