Only the Brave

on August 31, 1994 by Estep Nagy
   This peculiar but interesting combination of the bleak and sentimental is an atypical study of the typical elements of coming of age: small betrayals, erotic awakenings and the arrival of vocation. Directed by Aus- tralian filmmaker Ana Kokkinos, "Only the Brave" follows the unhappy days in the life of Alex, an intense-looking high school girl, through a tempestuous and tragic friendship with her friend Vicki; a stillborn lesbian relationship with her English teacher; and constant tormenting by her vicious classmates.
   The style wants to be a bit too flashy to qualify as naturalistic, but it's certainly gritty, and "Only the Brave" takes place largely within a one-square-mile dump replete with rusted locomotives, empty warehouses and, almost incidentally, a high school. There are a few lapses into self-pity, but Kokkinos is adept at presenting Alex's side of the story without prettifying it, no small feat given the unrelenting grimness of her life at home and school.    Starring Elena Mandalis, Dora Kaskanis and Maude Davey. Directed by Ana Kokkinos. Written by Ana Kokkinos and Mira Robertson. Produced by Fiona Eagger. A First Run release. Drama. Unrated. Running time: 62 min.
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