The Four Corners of Nowhere

Director: Steve Chbosky
Screenwriters: Steve Chbosky

Institute History

  • 1995 Sundance Film Festival


Singles, Reality Bites and Bodies, Rest & Motion have tried, with varying success, to deal with the trials and tribulations of the “46 million Americans, aged 18 to 29, [who make up the] second largest group of young adults in United States history.” Of course, angst is an easy target for critics who contend that true hardship did not used to give youth the luxury of rebellion.

The Four Corners of Nowhere approaches this issue with wry satire and wicked comic timing. It uses the serious attitude and sociopathic need to pigeonhole societal phenomena embodied by the media and film as a backdrop for deft parody, then plays out a serious drama and social commentary. This is a dense, ambitious first feature from young filmmaker Steve Chbosky, where the stereotypes and pop icons are ridiculed to the point where one can see the truth beneath the surface.

The story unfolds through the eyes of Duncan, a philosophical nomad hitchhiking across America. He collects life experiences and absorbs them. He is picked up by Toad, a performance artist from the suburbs, who is on his way to Ann Arbor to visit his codependent sister, Jenny, and to bait her sold-out law student fiancé, Calvin. Jenny works at a coffeehouse with Squeeze, a closet genius living with her boyfriend Hank, a sensitive artist combating creative block by baking cookies, listening to Tom Petty records, and rehearsing for an Oprah Winfrey appearance. They resemble the types Rick Linklater explored in Slacker.

The Four Corners of Nowhere is not making any attempt to define a generation—this has been done to death, Chbosky is saying. Rather, this is an attempt to let the players speak for themselves. Clever writing, absorbing characters, and evenhanded direction give you an insider’s view of what it’s like to be young and lost in America.

— Christian Gaines

Screening Details

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