Teen angst at its nuanced best: review of Dirty Books

Dirty Books: Short film directed by Zachary Lapierre

Written by Ian Everhart, Zachary Lapierre

Have you ever mourned the demise of a way of life? Have you ever been confused and apprehensive as new waves of technology continue to crash upon the shore? You're not alone. The protagonist of Dirty Books, David Burrough (Noah Bailey) is the editor of the school gazette and is bewildered and upset when he's told that his beloved newsletter is closing down to make way for a school endorsed social media club. He decides that he will take matters into his own hands by fabricating a news story that will get everyone talking. 

Timothy J Cox and Noah Bailey in Dirty Books

This short film is beautifully written and thematically tight. Every scene and piece of dialogue is in place for a reason and draws you into David's troubling world. Before I wax lyrical about every element of the film I should mention one thing though. There is one gaping hole in the script. I couldn't see what advantage a print newsletter had over a social media club to break this particular story. Maybe it's just my social media blinkers on but I would've thought, in some ways, the social media club would have been better placed to cover a breaking story in real time rather than waiting for the scheduled newsletter. It's a minor matter and is more than made up for by the sophistication of rest of the screenplay. Now, on to the rest of the film.


The performances are pitch perfect in this schoolyard comedy reminiscent of John Hughes' work. The identity politics is nuanced and taps into the best teen-angst movies. The characters are recognisable types but have depth and complexity. The cinematography is well crafted and effortlessly recreates the high-stakes world of the high school setting. Timothy J Cox exudes confidence and authority as the school principal, Dr Bradley. David Burrough's vulnerability and boyish cockiness is played perfectly by Noah Bailey. The cast is rounded out with effortlessly convincing supporting performances by Ansley Berg and Isaiah Lapierre.

Noah Bailey in Dirty Books

Zacchary Lappiere has done a stellar job in telling this simple story without so much as a misstep. It has the simple clarity of vision of a much bigger, more expensive film yet it maintains its indie heart. Don't take my word for it. See for yourself. You can find the film on YouTube

The production company Fitch Fort Films is right here with a collection of very funny super-short pieces.