From Jane Schoenbrun comes a captivating film that delves into the lives of two outsiders, united by a peculiar television series that resonates with misunderstood teenagers. As the show abruptly ends, the protagonists are thrust into the harsh realities of life, grappling with their own identities. While the film is rich in emotion and heart, Jane Schoenburn’s struggle with the film’s overall direction is evident.

Set in the 1990s, Owen, a character grappling with his identity in a society that demands conformity, finds solace in the rebellious Maddy (Brigette Lundy-Paine), a fellow outsider. Maddy’s obsession with a young adult series, The Pink Opaque, initially confuses Owen, but he soon finds himself drawn to its themes. Their bond strengthens during the show’s run, but their lives are shattered when the program is abruptly canceled.

Written and directed by Jane Schoenburn, I Saw the TV Glow is adequately fascinating and compelling, but its final act struggles to maintain a solid footing. I can appreciate the protagonists’ struggles, and it is certainly heart-wrenching to see their eventual decline, but the movie’s strangely ambiguous ending nearly derails the entire affair.

I was very impressed with Justice Smith’s soft-spoken and understated performance, which portrays Owen as a relatable and sympathetic figure seeking truth and meaning in who he is. I loved the acting of Brigette Lundy-Paine, who portrays Maddy, a more assured and determined young woman Owen admires as a source of strength. These two talented actors help keep this movie afloat despite its problems.

Overall, I like this movie. It is messy and imperfect, but enough of it works to keep people invested in the sad journey of its main characters. I Saw the TV Glow is now in theaters and one of those underdog movies that deserves attention.

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