Watching Hannah Bailey wade her way through high school in American Teen is as heartbreaking and exhilarating as watching Juno MacGuff. But Juno was a figment of someone’s imagination. Bailey is absolutely, positively the real thing. Shot like a classed-up version of The Hills, Nanette Burstein’s documentary American Teen follows four real Indiana students, all of them dealing with heavy emotional burdens and in the process of figuring out who they are. In the film, Bailey lives with her grandmother because her mother is too depressed to take care of her, endures a crushing breakup that incapacitates her for weeks, and faces down her naysaying parents. ”It’s all the embarrassing stuff,” says Bailey, now 20 and studying film at the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts. ”But it’s also good stuff. It’s not like taking parts of my personality and trying to make a new person out of me. It actually is me.” Most of Bailey’s college friends have not yet seen the movie. ”I’m just a friend,” she says. ”Not like a famous friend or anything.” Yet. (July 25)
Posted July 21 2008 — 12:00 AM EDT
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