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A Generation X romance
Reality Bites (DVD)
Member Name: suziedre
Reality Bites (DVD)
Advantages: A cool look back at the 1990s; relatable
Disadvantages: Winona has always bugged me
Reality Bites is a 1994 comedy drama starring Winona Ryder, Ethan Hawke, and Ben Stiller, who also directed the film.
I was 14 in 1994, I loved 'grunge' music and men with long hair, I wanted to be in a band, and I spent a lot of my time wearing leggings and checked shirts. Therefore this film was one of my favourites.
Reality Bites was filmed in only 42 days, and it comes across as quite lo-fi. The plotline is fairly simple, but one that is easy to relate to. It follows 4 friends Leilana, Vickie, Troy and Sammy. Leilana (Ryder), is the main character. Having recently graduated, she now works for a TV show but gets fired after humiliating a TV star live on air. Vickie (Janeane Garofalo) is her promiscuous friend who works for The Gap, whereas Sammy (Steve Zahn) is her male gay friend who is trying to come out to his parents.
Also in the mix is Troy (Hawke), a highly intelligent slacker-type who works on a newsstand and plays in a terrible grunge band called Hey! That's My Bike. He and Leilana have a bond, but after meeting Michael (Stiller), a bland cable channel executive, she starts dating him, and her and Troy's relationship falls apart.
The basis of the film is Leilana filming her friends' lives in order to make a documentary about them. They're all young, unsure about the future, and realising that yep, reality really does bite.
This film is VERY of its time, focusing on Gen X in the 1990s. The issues covered are also very '90s - going from dealing with divorced parents, coming out as gay, getting tested for AIDS, and not knowing where to go in life during the period between leaving University and having to venture into the 'real' world.
At 14, I really wanted to have their cool life - dancing in gas stations and hanging out in their kooky shared house eating pizza. At that age I didn't realise how painfully true the film would be about life post-University when you have to try to find a job that you don't hate without compromising your true self.
It's funny watching it again now, because before you always were automatically rooting for Troy and Leilana to get together. He was cool, cynical, sarcastic, with long hair and a beard, and a band that played in local bars. In contrast Michael came across as a corporate, cheesy, bore. Now that I'm older I am not sure who I root for - Troy's really a bit of an arse and an intellectual snob.
Winona Ryder, I guess, was the perfect choice to play someone cute, kooky and alternative. Personally she has always gotten on my nerves a tad. Janeane Garofalo is brilliant as Vickie, and Ethan Hawke was pretty great casting as I could just imagine him being like that in real life back then.
Being from 1994, the soundtrack is great, featuring tracks by the likes of The Knack, Squeeze, David Bowie, Dinosaur Jr. and Juliana Hatfield. Reality Bites also spawned the huge hit Stay by Lisa Loeb. The film itself has cameos by Evan Dando of The Lemonheads and Dave Pirner of Soul Asylum... right up my teenage grunger street!
I do love this film but watching it now makes me feel old and sad that the 1990s are over. I never did share a house with cool slacker type people (although I have spent many a night in a local bar watching dodgy bands). I learnt myself during my 20s, just as the characters did, that reality bites, so the film is certainly one I can relate to.
Summary: An easy watch about Gen X in the 1990s