Puberty Blues - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Puberty Blues Reviews

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May 13, 2015
Good story, shit acting.
½ December 23, 2014
A popular Australian film with Bruce Beresford as director, Puberty Blues sounded like an interesting piece of cinematic nostalgia.

Puberty Blues reminded me a lot of the 1995 movie Kids in how it depicts the raw nature of sexual experimentation, sex and drugs that younger crowds are going through. It steps up though because it is more narrative driven and character focused, although it is less sadistic. It's atmosphere is lighter and it has a touch of Aussie charm to it as well, so it is serious without being excessive. But either way, Puberty Blues does a good job confronting legitimate issues that plagued Australia's youth at a time where it was too ashamed to talk about it. Nowadays the issues from Puberty Blues are dealt with every night on the News and are significantly less confronting, so one of the main things which makes Puberty Blues a good film is the fact that it dealt with so much controversial material back in 1981. Viewing it in the original time of the film would have been a somewhat shocking experience, but seeing it now remains interesting for the same reasons as well as for its nostalgic value.
From a contemporary perspective, it is clear that much of the impact of Puberty Blues would be lesser today than it would back in its day, but many of the dramatic elements remain effective due to the fact that they are painfully relevant. Puberty Blues deals with serious issues along the lines of teenage sex, drug use, gender segregation and social status. It deals with the fim from a female perspective to tackle serious issues without ever seeming like a piece of propaganda or being one sided. Bruce Beresford manages to handle the material of the film very nicely as director because although the script Margaret Kelly hands him omits many of the key themes from the original source novel, it still maintains a lot of the story's edge and ambition which he transfers to the screen directly. His directorial work ensures that the film comes off as stylish while he pumps the film with an atmosphere which is strong without being anything but organic. It really felt like a natural film, and although it may have not maintained the most in terms of story, it made up for edge and subject matter. Referring back to what I said earlier about Puberty Blues being like Kids, it is a film about subject matter more than story or characters. It does have some sympathetic characters just as easily as it has some detestable ones, and viewers are a lot more likely to connect to Puberty Blues than Kids since this film seems to have real heart to it. But as a whole, there is something distant or empty about the film as a result of this. It doesn't make it a bad movie, it makes it a different kind of experience as a film akin to Kids but less hard hitting and more narrative driven. Outside of its subject matter, Puberty Blues also touches upon Australian culture to a certain extent by comparing social classes and hilighting what is considered popular and what isn't. There are many themes and topics that are covered by Puberty Blues which are done in an honest fashion, and Bruce Beresford's direct way of handling the material is very respectable. In the end, he manages to craft a film which works as both a wake up call for teenagers, parents and particularly females who are coming of age and a legitimate narrative feature.
From a stylish perspective, Puberty Blues has no trouble succeeding. The Australian scenery is beautiful. One good thing about Puberty Blues is looking back at the popular Australian scene of the 1970's when surfing culture was in its heyday, and the setting for the film is captured really well thanks to beautifully colourful scenery which emphasises the energetic and free-spirited nature of the Australian youth. The scenery for the film is gorgeous, full of colour and life which makes the film a treat on the eyes. It is all captured with strong cinematography which always manages to capture the life of the scenery in the background to its central focus. The old look of all the Australian buildings, interiors and pop culture works as an interesting trip through time.
And the cast of Puberty Blues do their part as well. All the actors maintain a distinct Aussie charm, but Nell Schofield remains the most memorable of the bunch.
Nell Schofield makes a great lead in the role of Debbie. Serving as the main character in Puberty Blues, Nell Schofield takes on a large responsibility which she easily steps up to. For an actress who remains relatively unknown to this day, Nell Schofield did a great job establishing the female outcast archetype of Australian teenage culture in 1981. She develops well over the course of the story because while she begins the film as an agressive yet more introverted girl, she is able to still maintain that as she branches out into being associated with the Greenhill Gang. Her performance always maintains a sense of realistic subtlety and restraint which prevents her from going into melodramatic material and it works because it plays at some of the most simple elements of the character. She makes an honest character out of Debbie and doesn't hold back anything unnecesarrily while maintaining the ability to interact with the many other characters in the film easily. Nell Schofield makes a devent everyman out of Debbie and deals with the material in a realistic fashion without having to resort to stereotypical character elements.

So although Puberty Blues is more about subject matter than story, it is an edgy and harshly realistic examination of issues plaguing teenagers bolstered by strong directorial work from Bruce Beresford.
August 24, 2014
A few years ago on a trip to Australia, I saw a documentary about Jad Capelja (I think) who went from this film to ruining her life, going mad, and topping herself, if my memory serves me right. So I thought I'd better watch this in tribute, at least. It's not too bad, the acting is pretty ropey but the story isn't bad. If this was American it would be awful but the fact that it is Australian and all that comes with it makes this quite interesting and funny at times.
August 12, 2014
A Collection Of Situations, Rather Than Any Plot, Or Character Driven Story. Most People Will Be Able To Relate To Some Part Of It. Especially If You Lived Near A Beach..Which Is 70-80% Of Australians! The Australian TV-Series Has Much More Depth, As Oppose To The Lack-There-Of On Show At Times Here. The Issues Of Adolescence Still Resonate Today, Just Not Explored Very Well.
April 19, 2013
I didn't hate this movie at all and found it to have a charm to it. The two main female leads aren't the most conventionally pretty girls in this whole movie but I think they were good looking enough to hold a scene or two. The movie follows two girls through all the trials and tribulations of teen age life in suburban Australia during the early 80s. This movie really felt to me like a mix of Fast Times At Ridgemont High,Little Darlings and Kids from 1995,but a less graphic version. This shows the reality of teen age girls and all the crap they have to go through to fit in then find out its not worth all the trouble.
There were very awkward parts in this but that's what gave it the certain level of charm. Its not a horrible movie by any means but it doesn't make you want to watch it again anytime soon.
October 16, 2012
Based on the confronting best-selling novel of the same name, this classic coming-of-age tale set against the backdrop of one of Australia's most famous beaches is a thoroughly entertaining and often heartbreakingly realistic depiction of adolescent angst.

Our likeable protagonists Debbie and Sue (played with competence and charm by Nell Schofield and Jad Capelja) anchor the proceedings to keep the attention where it should be.

Wonderful music contributions written by Tim Finn also adds depth to the unfolding drama.
Super Reviewer
September 11, 2012
Watching this film just makes me think thank Christ I was an unpopular teenager. Being in the in group could surely not be worth what these girls go through!
A true to life Aussie classic that I first saw in my teens and many times since. Still relevant to teens today although I sure hope things have changed (doubt it). The new tv series based on this is also good, but this is the original and best.
What girls will put up with to get a boyfriend!
September 6, 2012
With the new tv adaptation of Puberty Blues about to air there has been a sudden resurgence of interest in the original 1981 film by Bruce Beresford. Our daughter wanted to see it and tonight we sat down and watched it together. I'd forgotten how great it was. The film takes place in Cronulla and tells the story of Debbie, a teenage girl who desperately wants to be part of a popular mob of surfers, as a matter of distinction above anything else. In winning their approval she is faced with a whole lot of difficulties that the average Aussie teen experiences... drinking, smoking, drugs, sex, pregnancy and even death. For it's time it was a no-holds barred account of teenage life and a realistic one at that. Teens identified with it and as proven tonight, they still do. The only let down for me was the music. Comprising of Tim Finn's music (mostly Split Enz) the songs are sung by a woman who totally kills the essence of the songs. Regardless the film has turned into a period piece and I was pleased to know that the upcoming tv adaptation is also set in the early 80s. Good. I am actually looking forward to watching it and I would assume it will be even more faithful to the original book where the girls were actually 13 (not 16) and endure even darker times, such as abortion and gang rape. Bruce Beresford's 81 Puberty Blues touches on the gang rape but passes it off almost as though it was a rite of passage... that bothered me. Anyhow, still a great coming-of-age movie that teens should see. Its uniquely Aussie without being ocker. It represents us well, i think.
½ July 29, 2012
Deadset authentic movie of Aussie moles and chicko rolls. Debbie Vickers and Sue Knightwant to become one of the cool girls in their high school. (Uncool and ugly girls had two options, be a mole or a prude!) and this is their story of their quest.
½ April 29, 2012
My awesome mum taped this for me to watch when I was 13, I think it was a 'midday movie'. Every teenager needs to see this. Still one of my favourites. Thanks mum!
July 20, 2011
I didn't hate this movie at all and found it to have a charm to it. The two main female leads aren't the most conventionally pretty girls in this whole movie but I think they were good looking enough to hold a scene or two. The movie follows two girls through all the trials and tribulations of teen age life in suburban Australia during the early 80s. This movie really felt to me like a mix of Fast Times At Ridgemont High,Little Darlings and Kids from 1995,but a less graphic version. This shows the reality of teen age girls and all the crap they have to go through to fit in then find out its not worth all the trouble.
There were very awkward parts in this but that's what gave it the certain level of charm. Its not a horrible movie by any means but it doesn't make you want to watch it again anytime soon.
April 14, 2011
"Wanna come to the dunnies for a smoke?

Classic!
March 21, 2011
MMMMMmmmm-Thinking???
Super Reviewer
January 11, 2011
A slow, boring, semi-documentary of teenagers in Australia. Nothing really happens until the end, and that was so annoying. I didn't care for this movie, and I don't recommend seeing this movie.
½ July 21, 2010
You know, this is an Australian classic, but one which I had no intention on ever watching. Upon stumbling across it late on a Saturday night on ABC2, I decided out of pure laziness really, to give it a go. It was astonishingly honest and brutal and interesting for the fact that it depicts an Australia I really only have fleeting memories of half experiencing. I imagine it was a pretty important film for young women at the time of its release and its handling of gender issues and drug use would have been pushing many envelopes at the time also. Deserving of its status in Australian film history.
July 5, 2010
I will preface this review by saying that this movie was not horrible. First of all, this film is more of a biography/documentary of daily teenage girl life in Australia. If you think that would make for a good movie, go ahead and see this movie. If not, read on. Second, this movie is boring. There is little in the way of an actual plot or story, and that made it pretty boring. Lastly, the ending is good, but I don't think it's a good idea to make the audience wait over an hour or longer for something that could have happened much earlier in the film. Anyway, I wont recommend this movie, but I wont tell you not to watch it either. If you are really a fan of serious drama, you may enjoy this.
July 3, 2010
I was really looking forward to watching it, after all the hype about it..I feel really let down....
mirabella1996
Super Reviewer
½ February 9, 2010
Awful film about the mundane, sexist, feral lives led by a group of (tragically, all too realistic) Aussie teens growing up in Nth Cronulla surfing beach area in the 70s.
It is cringe-worthy stuff &, I regret to say, that things are much the same in our western suburbs today.
Yuck!
Half a star (for the soundtrack)
½ October 8, 2009
Own it - pretty funny.
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