The Other Kids screens at Aperture 2 on April 3 at 7:30 p.m., April 4 at 4:30 p.m. and April 5 at 7:30 p.m. Director Chris Brown attends all three screenings.

The Other Kids, a film that blends fiction and documentary, in some ways recalls the ensemble-verité feel of Richard Linklater’s classic Dazed and Confused, albeit as a darker and less epic take on the high school experience.

The film’s rural California setting, in the Gold Rush town of Sonora, captures some important cross-currents in the national zeitgeist — immigration versus nativism and cultural conservatism versus cosmopolitanism. The town is both a cocoon within a frightening, larger world and a stifling snarl of dead-ends.

One of The Other Kids’ clever innovations is to have the teenage actors write their own lines for fictionalized versions of themselves, lending the film a rare authenticity. The characters say things that precocious teenagers would actually say and that adults would have a hard time making up, like, “Indubitably, like I’m not even kidding.”

As graduation approaches, the outcasts seem to be the ones most emotionally equipped to navigate adult life while the better socialized kids enjoying the camaraderie of their senior year become progressively more fragile and paralyzed by self-doubt. One of the most academically advanced students craters into a deepening mental breakdown, while the courtship between a Latino boy and white girl seems likely to unravel when the boy’s immigration status becomes apparent. Some of the characters are more fully realized than others, but that’s a small quibble for a film that takes on an ambitious challenge and otherwise delivers impressive results.

— Jordan Green

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