I Saw the TV Glow SXSW Review

March 11, 202470/1006 min
Starring
Justice Smith, Bridgett Lundy-Paine, Ian Froreman
Written by
Jane Schoenbrun
Directed by
Jane Schoenbrun
Run Time
1h 40m
Overall Score
Rating Summary

   After watching Jane Schoenbrun’s beautiful film “I Saw the TV Glow,” I had lots of thoughts going through my head. Most of them centered on the times I felt I didn’t belong in a group and those escape measures I would use to feel more at home. The other thought was about the TV shows I loved as a kid and how many of them, when I watch now, are not exactly how I remember them. In my head, they are grand, but revisiting them takes a lot of shine off of those memories. “I Saw the TV Glow” does many things well, but it reminded me that things are not always how you remember them.

As a kid, young Owen (Ian Foreman) didn’t really fit in very well. He would often walk around the world scared. On voting night, he notices a girl, who is reading a book, who grabs his attention as a fellow tribe member. That girl is named Maddy (Brigette Lundy-Paine), and the book she is reading is an episode guide to a show called “The Pink Opaque,” a sort of hybrid of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and it’s the kind of show people can get obsessed with. Maddy is one of those people, and she is about to introduce it to Owen, and welcome him to the obsessed club. Maddy is a little older, but time does pass and they remain somewhat friends, with Maddy passing video tapes of the show to an older Owen (Justice Smith), as his parents don’t let him stay up late enough to catch the show live. One day, though, Maddy just up and disappears, in a mysterious way, and for Owen, he just moves on with his life, living it. As time passes, Maddy returns only to make Owen question things, on just who he and Maddy really are.

Schoenbrun delivers a masterful coming-of-age fantasy with each scene feeling like it comes alive with vivid detail. This is also a story about obsession as two characters, as so many before, find themselves through someone or something else. It also reminds us of those moments where the world shifts into something new for us, and how a simple TV show or movie can have a change how you view the world. This movie will have that effect on many who see it, as it delivers on so many levels that you have to unpack, and some get into some conversations with anyone you see it with.

“I Saw the TV Glow” is a deeply felt drama as well as a multi-layered horror story that is just beautiful to behold. The film kind of puts you in a trance, with both its visuals and the soundtrack that fits the mood and the feel of the world, while giving one of the must-have soundtracks of the year. Schoenbrun delivers a very ambitious interpretation of what it is like to come of age when you are consumed by loneliness while consuming the media in our orbit. With that said, this movie will be embraced by not all, as some will simply misunderstand it. There is nothing wrong with that because this movie speaks to the people it needs to, and for them, it might be an exhale of sorts, all tied up in a beautiful movie.

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