Andrew Semans‘ poignant and observant short film, All Day Long, offers a glimpse of teenage romance rarely seen on-screen in most films or TV series made for teens. The film tells the story of two suburban teenagers who skip school to spend the afternoon together. The teens, Alison and Daniel, speak and gesture with all of the awkwardness of first love, giving each other small tokens of affection–a mix CD, a good luck charm–and saying “I love you,” as if they are trying out the words for the first time. The film captures that initial rush of elation as Alison slips out the back door of her school and runs down alleys to meet Daniel, but as the day wears on, their initial excitement gradually devolves into boredom and disillusionment in a shift that was both subtle and convincing.
Because the teens–particularly Alison–are worried about getting caught, they spend much of the school day hanging out in the abandoned and derelict spaces of their suburban New Jersey neighborhood, hiding under a bridge along the railroad tracks, lounging in a clearing in the woods, or walking through a parking lot overgrown with weeds. These abandoned spaces give the impression that Alison and Daniel are the only two people in their world–and for much of the day they are–but as the end of the school day approaches, the requirement of returning to the real world begins to cast a shadow over their day of freedom, and Alison finds herself considering returning to school so that her mom won’t suspect that she has skipped.
All Day Long is beautifully paced, allowing Alison and Daniel’s story to unfold gradually, and the naturalistic settings quietly underscore the emotional transformations of the film’s central characters. The actors’ performances are also remarkably subtle in their depiction of a familiar, but often forgotten, story from teenage life.