High school, by its very nature, is inadvertently cinematic. In just one canteen you have the entire makings of an almost Shakespearian drama, with the varying collectives, the hierarchy, the inherent social politics, and an over-abundance of idiosyncratic personalities that make up that deafening sound of a thousand people talking at the same time, serving as a persistent backdrop. It’s in a room like this where first-time filmmaker Charlie Lyne has set his stool, immersed, and enamoured by his surroundings, as he delves deep into the soul of the teen movie, in this visual essay on the high school odyssey, as told through cinema.

Lyne is effectively taking his audience through an identifiable narrative and journey, almost replicating the structure of a teen movie to help tell his tale; with a prologue to set his scene, and then several chapters thereafter. The one consistent voice to this tale is that of distinctive narrator Fairuza Balk, as we weave in and out of modern teen movies – over 200, to be precise – from 1995 onwards. This is by no means a traditional documentary, with talking heads sat in front of undecorated backdrops. This is an intellectual study, like a dissertation brought to life on the big screen, coming from the Mark Cousins school of filmmaking, with Lyne displaying an ability to call upon several reference points to embellish a point much the esteemed documentarian. He simplifies and deconstructs his library of movies – but never ridicules the genre.

Given the director’s age of just 23, Beyond Clueless is a picture enriched in nostalgia, and should find an audience with anybody of his generation, as we examine and romanticise over films many of us grew up watching ourselves. They’re films we often share a special bond with, able to see past the flaws given we were first exposed to them at such a formative, impressionable age. That being said, there are moments in this documentary where you’re crying out for a reference, or clip from a teen movie prior to Clueless’ release. It seems wrong to study this genre and not look back to its origins and at least mention pictures such as Rebel Without a Cause, American Graffiti, Grease or National Lampoon’s Animal House. You could argue that it may convolute matters somewhat, as where do you draw the line in such a broad genre – but just a very mention or nod towards the classics of old, seems like a vital component missing from this endeavour.

Nonetheless, the soundtrack is worth going for alone, and while a little contrived in parts, with an evident attempt to thrive off the Drive bandwagon, it works, and suits the entire mood and nature to the piece. What is most evident from this picture, however, is what a promising career lies ahead of Lyne. From film critic to filmmaker, eh? How hard can it be?