Jenny (Juliana Destefano) is an intelligent girl with a bright future ahead of her and has set her sights on going to Harvard. She’s close to her family and particularly with her dad, Jack (Brian Thornton) who she enjoys hanging out with despite him being goofy and embarrassing.
However, Jenny is growing up and is trying to find her place in the world and doesn’t really know where she belongs. Her Hispanic heritage has something that has always alluded her as she doesn’t speak Spanish and so she feels distant from her mother, but Jenny is soon to find her place as a woman.
Going to a gig, Jenny hears Riot Grrl music for the first time and is inspired to change her view on life and see the world for what it really is – a patriarchy that oppresses women. She starts doing typical things that teenage girls do when they want to rebel as well.
She cuts her hair, starts taking drugs and even falls in with a boyfriend which may raise questions about how close their relationship may be getting. Jenny completely changes, but with Harvard coming so close she may need to decide where she belongs.
Acid Test is a coming-of-age drama set in the early nineties, inspired by the true story of writer/director Jennifer Waldo’s own experiences of growing up and expanded from her short film. However, Acid Test doesn’t really feel like a story of a teenager going through troubled times. Much like Jenny’s Harvard interview where she reflects on her life, it feels like an adult vaguely remembering her teenage years.
Jenny is introduced as a straightlaced student and Destefano’s performance doesn’t seem to suggest anything else. So, when Jenny goes to a Riot Grrl concert it seems to come out of the blue that she would change her life and feel inspired from reading a pamphlet.
What follows is a series of things that don’t really connect as the maturity of an adult perspective doesn’t really make it clear what Jenny is thinking. It merely comes across as a girl acting out purely because she can. There are attempts at trying to make the story feel bigger than it is by dropping in comparisons to Hamlet and watching how early nineties American politics turned out, but it feels as disconnected as the rest. Although having good intentions, Acid Test needs a lot more depth to find an audience who will connect with its story.
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