In the aftermath of the explosion of punk music and its accompanying lifestyle in the mid-70s to early 1980s, Hollywood began cranking out teen movies like never before. Yet there is no real correlation to be made between the two movements since filmmakers all but ignored the punk phenomenon and the culture it molded. But far from the safe world of suburban high schools and Hollywood, independent filmmaker Susan Seidelman created Wren, a hyper, just-out-of-high-school Jersey girl, trying to be a part of the New York punk scene in the 1982 film "Smithereens."
In the spirit of the punk movement that inspired it, the film spews raw spontaneity, stars a mostly non-professional cast and looks like it was made for a few thousand dollars. And, singer-songwriter Richard Hell, co-founder of the seminal punk band Television, is cast as a punker whom Wren tries to latch on to. In the film, his band is called Smithereens, a name used later in the 1980s by a real-life pop band.
But it is Wren's nervy determination to have her 15 minutes of fame that drives "Smithereens." In the opening scene, this skinny girl wearing a hip-hugging miniskirt and silver high heels steals a pair of sunglasses right out of the hand of a woman. Wren, played by Susan Berman, meets Paul, a strait-laced Midwestern guy, while posting Xeroxed pictures of herself on the subway and meets punker Eric, played by Hell, while on a date with Paul.