The critically acclaimed film and television director Michael Arteta ’89 (Chuck & Buck, The Good Girl, Six Feet Under) has directed a new film, Youth in Revolt, which is based on the cult novel by C. D. Payne. The film opened nationwide to generally positive reviews on Feb. 8. The work had previously been shown at the Toronto International Film Festival in September and will be part of the upcoming Berlin Film Festival Generation lineup.
The movie stars the popular young actor Michael Cera (Arrested Development, Superbad, Juno) who plays a frustrated 16-year-old virgin named Nick Twisp. Cera’s character takes on an assertive French alter ego, Francois, to win the heart of Sheeni, a young girl (played by a talented newcomer, Portia Doubleday) who lives in the same town and loves French culture. The cast also has a stellar supporting cast, known for their sharp comic timing, including Jean Smart, Zach Galifianakis, Steve Buscemi, Fred Willard, Ray Liotta, and Mary Kay Place.
In her review in The New York Times, Manohla Dargis called the film an “often charming coming-of-age tale” and went on to praise Arteta: “As a director Mr. Arteta … has the kind of quiet talent that can be easy to overlook. He’s particularly good with actors, partly because he doesn’t crowd or push them. His scenes never feel forced or rushed, even when they skew toward the madcap. … Mr. Arteta is equally good with the supporting cast, which is packed with recognizable faces that might be distracting elsewhere but instead add different colors.”
In a recent article about Arteta in The Hartford Courant, writer Ron Dicker describes the director as showing “a refreshing mix of brain power, frankness, and vulnerability” and says that Arteta “credits [Wesleyan film professor Jeanine] Basinger for laying the technical and emotional groundwork so he could pursue his calling, fears and all. She showed him films by Frank Capra and Howard Hawks. Watch and learn, she demanded.”
Arteta also has received professional support from fellow Wesleyan alumni such as Matthew Greenfield ’90, who produced several of Arteta’s films; Mike White ’92, who wrote the screenplays for two of Arteta’s films; and film director and playwright Paul Weitz ’88 (About a Boy, In Good Company, Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant).