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Originally published Thursday, March 29, 2012 at 3:01 PM

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Movie review

'Kati with an I' touches something universal about youth and hope

"Kati with an I," a documentary directed by Robert Greene, "captures those oddly untethered days around high-school graduation," writes Seattle Times movie critic Moira Macdonald. Though the movie is sometimes as dull as a restless teenage afternoon, it touches something universal about youth and hope. It's playing at the Northwest Film Forum.

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie review 3 stars

'Kati with an I,' a documentary directed by Robert Greene. 86 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences. Northwest Film Forum, through Thursday.

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Robert Greene's "Kati with an I" is a free-floating documentary that captures those oddly untethered days around high-school graduation, when all that's certain is a cap, a gown and a sense of something ending and something beginning. At its center is Greene's half-sister, 18-year-old Kati Genthner, who shares the film with footage of her younger self. We watch as teen Kati visits the mall with her boyfriend James; puts on makeup in the car; goes swimming; says she's bored (in the way that only teenagers can); marches down the aisle to a badly played "Pomp and Circumstance." And we learn, in a brief, startling epilogue, that Kati's life is about to dramatically change direction; those sunny late-spring days were truly the end of an era.

Greene gives little to anchor us in his story; it takes a while to figure out exactly who everybody is and why they matter. (Kati, for example, does not live with her family.) There are moments when his film can be as dull as a restless teenage afternoon. Yet, in the flat yellow light of Kati's small Alabama town, something universal and touching emerges about youth and hope, particularly in the clips of a shyly smiling child Kati, and in the intense, passionate love that teen Kati holds for James. (They're engaged, with plans to be married in "like, five years.") In one sequence, they drive down a country road while happily singing along to a pop tune — it's as if, in that moment, the only real things in the world are the song and their voices, blending as one.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com

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