Gage’s review published on Letterboxd:
It’s only natural to worry about the kids. Their problems frighten us because they are so foreign; their lack of solutions makes us accept that we might have failed them as parents. Looking at your kids can be as uncomfortable as a gaze into the mirror, because the flaws in our children are reflections of our own.
You can trace each generation’s disappointment in the next through years of cinematic flayings. Boomers saw a generation of lost, apathetic souls in their own children, the kids who meandered at the River’s Edge. Larry Clark witnessed Kids become adults the day they hit puberty, watched them strip away all the intimacy from sex and ruin their own lives for five minutes of pleasure. His screenwriter, Harmony Korine (a Gen-Xer) would later craft his own portrait of the youth in Spring Breakers — an exaltation of excess that paints Millennials as zealous pilgrims on the path to fame and fortune, fueled only by dubstep and cans of Monster Energy. In the same year, Sofia Coppola examined the obnoxious “products of reality-TV culture” in The Bling Ring, while Baumbach’s delayed-coming-of-age story Frances Ha gently depicted Millennial reluctance, or maybe inability, to grow up.
Ten years later, the landscape has changed again and swung wildly in the other direction. I’m 27. I’m either the Millennials' dying gasp or the first Zoomer ever born, depending on who you ask. I identify more with Millennial-flavored malaise – I had the chance to operate under the illusion that a “normal future” with a wife and kids and a house and football on Sunday is what laid in store for me. I’m not sure if there was a carrot left to dangle in front of Gen Z by the time they came of age. And I definitely don’t understand the defining aspect of Zoomer culture, the target of this year’s teen social satire, Bodies Bodies Bodies – a lack of authenticity.
Yeah, if you watch the movie you will hear the words triggered, privilege, gaslighting, toxic, silencing, ableism, and ally, you will watch Tik Tok dances, you will roll your eyes when each character eagerly grabs the spotlight to talk about their borderline personality and body dysmorphia. What makes the film bearable is that the cast is rolling their eyes alongside you. The twenty-something girls (and a couple guys) aren’t immune to their own bullshit. There’s a tacit understanding that the terms they throw around have been weaponized, or lost all their power and become meaningless. I don’t mean to say that concerns about self-care and mental health are misplaced (these kids are clearly fucked up), just that the words themselves have been used as cudgels for so long that the concepts behind them are warped from repeated blunt impact.
Why do kids do this shit? My guess is that it all stems from a desire to perform, to project an image of total moral purity. If you have the Right Opinions about everything, you can’t be criticized. You’ll hate nearly everyone in Bodies Cubed, and they all hate each other, and they hate themselves. They can’t come to grips with the mistakes they’ve made, or the fact that they’re all rich and insulated from the real world. These imperfections will inevitably be used against them as leverage. Their “friendships” are strained, stretched thin enough to become translucent and reveal the series of transactions they boil down to. It’s all competition, from the Instagram homepage to the private group chat. Cultivating an image for yourself is so 2012, now the challenge is the constant weight of maintaining it.
Bodies x 3 translates that cutthroat atmosphere into a physical space by uniting a group of “friends” at someone’s dad’s estate for a hurricane party. People start dying for one reason or another, but that’s unimportant. The murders and following panic about who the killer could be are irrelevant, because they are all in essence murdering each other. In Clue, the central mystery is where and how the perp killed Mr. Boddy. The question that Reijn asks is, “Why the hell does everyone here have a motive?”
There are films about youth that are less judgmental, but it’s been awhile since we’ve made them. You can tell Linklater loved all the kids in Dazed and Confused, but he was looking backward through years of nostalgia. John Hughs knew the youngsters in The Breakfast Club would figure it out, but the world was so different then that his positivity seems outdated. Bodies + 4 -2 = 3 criticizes the newest wave of broken adults, but it also understands them. The world fractured long ago and the bone was set incorrectly. We’re healing crooked. How can we expect our children to grow into well-balanced adults when we’ve reared them in a world turning rapidly more absurd and uneven?