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Directed by Graeme Lynch
Spencer Stephens Productions, 1991. VHS cassette, 23:00 min., $295.00.
Distributed by International Tele-Film, 47 Densley Ave., Toronto, Ont. M6M 5A8.

Subject Headings:
Runaway teenagers-Juvenile films.
Homeless youth-Juvenile films.
Street life-Juvenile films.

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up

Reviewed by Paul Whitney

Volume 20 Number 3
1992 May

Lost Innocence is a cautionary tale of life on the streets for teenage runaways. At the beginning of the film an adolescent, played by Joel Wyner, leaves the constraints of his suburban home seeking "total freedom." We follow his descent from a naive youth aimlessly wandering downtown streets and sleeping in a park to a cynical junkie turning tricks.

While telescoped, his decline is credibly presented. No happy ending here, as our protagonist ends up dead in a back alley on a pile of garbage, the victim of either a drug overdose or a violent trick. The film concludes with the note that 5,000 teenage runaways are buried in unmarked graves each year. Talking about problems with friends, teachers or the Children's Aid Society is offered as an alternative to running away.

Lost Innocence is well acted, and production values are high throughout. The film doesn't pull back in its use of explicit language and its depiction of the sordid details of street life. While there is no depiction of sexual acts, the viewer is left with no doubt as to what is transpiring.

There are apparently two edited versions of the film available for purchase as well as the "uncensored" version submitted for review. One version deletes swear words and one deletes a scene where a policeman intimidates the protagonist into providing sexual favours. Given that the important message of the film is strengthened through its realism, the uncensored version should be purchased where possible. If in doubt contact the distributor for more information on the bowdlerized versions.

Lost Innocence credibly presents life on the street as a dangerous option for teenagers. It deserves to be seen by its intended audience.

Paul Whitney, Burnaby Public Library, Burnaby, B.C.

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