When Hurricane Irene rained all over the planned Southampton screening of Tatiana von Furstenberg and Francesca Gregorini’s coming-of-age boarding school drama, “Tanner Hall,” the duo — best friends since their own teenage years at Brown — decided to move the festivities to Los Angeles. Pulled together in three days by Von Furstenberg, last Tuesday’s low-key premiere at the Vista Theater in Los Feliz (followed by food-truck fare at picnic tables instead of dinner at Nobu) nonetheless boasted the star wattage of the cast members Brie Larson, Amy Ferguson, Chris Kattan and “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”’s Rooney Mara, in one of her first lead roles as the film‘s protagonist, Fernanda.
Inspired, said von Furstenberg, by early-’80s teen films like “Endless Love” and “Little Darlings” as well as by the directors’ personal experiences, “Tanner Hall” is the story of three best friends and one bad seed, and the often regrettable choices they make on the path toward womanhood. Nobody’s telling which details are directly lifted from their diaries, but at least a few wardrobe pieces came straight from von Furstenberg’s closet, including Fernanda’s Zodiac boots that costume designer Erica Nicotra says are “one of T’s staples. She’s worn them for her entire life.”
Deliberately avoiding all trendy teen signifiers, “Tanner Hall,” which opened Friday in New York and L.A., could be set any time in the past 30 years. When not in their gray school uniforms (designed by von Furstenberg’s mom), the girls wear classic wool sweaters and coats, vintage dresses with tights, and cotton knits layered with silk slips and camisoles. A reckless older man, played by Tom Everett Scott, drives a Datsun 280ZX under the blazing autumn leaves while listening to the Replacements.
“I think it’s easy for adults to appreciate the beauty and the casting,” says von Furstenberg, herself the mother of an 11-year-old girl, “but my highest aspiration was to make a movie that’s artful about adolescent complexity that can inspire young people. … I think there’s something in it for everybody.”