Now and Then: From Frosh to Seniors - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Now and Then: From Frosh to Seniors Reviews

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June 15, 2012
This superb documentary checks back in on the Stanford college students whose freshman year experience living in a dorm was chronicled by the earlier documentary, â~Froshâ(TM). It is a terrific film on its own, even without seeing the first one and even better in some ways, but it also nicely complements â~Froshâ(TM) in that it not only shows the development and fate of the students after four or more years of college but it includes scenes captured by the documentarians from their freshman year that were not included in the earlier film.

The film is nostalgic in tone with the filmmakers interviewing their subjects, showing them and the audience their earlier selves and asking them to reflect on their development. It isnâ(TM)t necessary to watch â~Froshâ(TM) to understand and appreciate this film but I highly recommend it because itâ(TM)s a great film and it will give you a much deeper appreciation for the kinds of changes that have occurred in the studentsâ(TM) lives.

By focusing on how the students have grown over their four years of college, this film is able to have something that â~Froshâ(TM) lacked which is a structure and stories. The earlier film consisted of character and personality expressed through hanging out and talking but here each student is shown in flashback with scenes from the earlier film, as well as some scenes that were shot during their freshman year but werenâ(TM)t included in â~Froshâ(TM) followed by their reaction to it as seniors and the story of their college experience in their own words.

Itâ(TM)s fascinating to learn what paths their lives take after the heady days of new experiences which characterized their earliest days in college. Some, like Cheng, an Asian-American overachiever from Ohio who fretted over his grades and ethnic identity as a freshman and continues to obsess over his performance in job interviews as a senior, seem to change very little, while others like Brandi change a lot. As a freshman Brandi ridiculed one classmate who talking about dropping out while rolling her eyes at another who joined a sorority. In this film we learn that she later joined a sorority herself and also took a two year break from college before graduating. These are by no means extremes as each studentâ(TM)s life takes a course which can now be seen as influenced but not predicted by their first year experiences.

Besides having more of a story to tell, this film also has better production values. The scenes of the students as seniors look a little bit more professional than the earlier documentary, which at times came across as a sincere Public Broadcasting style production at times. The students themselves are also now a lot more articulate, self-aware, and polished and they complement the filmmakers own increased skill and budget.

This film came out about 9 years after the students in it were freshmen and includes interviews and scenes of each student as a senior, showing, in a somewhat more abbreviated form than â~Froshâ(TM), what their current interests are, as well as giving brief subtitles revealing their plans or jobs right after college. Some might find the earnest non-judgmental approach of the filmmakers chronicling the lives of ordinary people who donâ(TM)t really stand out in any way to be corny or dull but this is a modest film which yields numerous rich insights and it is precisely the humble nature of the students which gives this film a relevance and universality that make it fascinating.
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