Never Goin' BackCamila Morrone and Maia Mitchell
Credit: Clay Grier/A24

Never Goin' Back

  • Movie

When you watch Never Goin’ Back, you can feel the Texas heat. Augustine Frizzell’s raunchy teenage indie follows best friends Jessie (Camila Morrone) and Angela (Maia Mitchell) as they wander around their hometown, slack off at their dead-end waitress jobs, and try to plan a weekend beach trip to Galveston. (Their vacation goals are to get high, eat a bunch of donuts, and definitely — definitely — see a dolphin.) It’s a delightfully meandering hangout movie that premiered at Sundance earlier this year, and Frizzell imbues the entire film with the sticky, sweltering feeling that comes with a Texas summer, whether Jessie and Angela are rushing to catch the bus in sweaty ponytails or ducking into a grocery store just for the air conditioning.

Although the film occasionally takes a turn for the loopy — expect plenty of toilet humor and penises drawn on faces — it’s always grounded in Jessie and Angela’s friendship, an unclassifiable bond that’s part lovers, part sisters, and part partners-in-crime. Frizzell describes it as “a love letter to being a teenager and having a best friend,” and it’s inspired by her own rebellious Texas adolescence of wandering around town with her own BFF.

“I was just trying to capture that and how we would just spend days together, hanging out, doing drugs, walking the town, going and eating from the grocery store,” she tells EW. “Just the minutia, the daily life that I personally experienced. And I knew that if I’d had some of these experiences, then it would be something that was probably relatable to other people who’d had similar teen experiences. Probably not on as large of a scale as your typical teenage experience — going to school, having a home, whatever — but I knew there had been other people out there like me.”

Never Goin’ Back is Frizzell’s feature directorial debut, but it’s actually not the first time she’s made this movie. She originally shot a version back in 2014 and got all the way to the editing bay before realizing it didn’t feel true to her own experiences. “I think I was just very scared to push the limits and scared of how people would react,” she says.

So, she cut that version into a short film, wrote a fresh script, and recruited an all-new cast headlined by Mitchell and Morrone. The result is a breezy new addition to the teenage-girls-behaving-badly genre — but one that still tells its heroines’ story with joy and love.

“Everyone’s comparing it to Spring Breakers, and I’m like, it’s nothing like Spring Breakers,” Frizzell says. “That movie is dark and heavy, and this is just about how, yes, things [as a teenager] are f—ed up, and yes, things are hard, but it’s still fun. And you still have these moments of joy where you feel alive and feel free. So that was what it was for me. I didn’t want to make something dark, and I didn’t want to focus on the negativity.”

Never Goin’ Back is in theaters now.

Never Goin' Back

  • Movie
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  • Augustine Frizzell