After cliché-ridden and condescending movies about teenagers and their hungry libidos, it is good to see a well-made and realistic film about youth. Lonnie (Sarah Boyd), who proudly states her age as "11 3/4," lives in a plush Manhattan brownstone with her upwardly mobile parents and a live-in housekeeper. Father is glad to have her traveling by bus to summer camp to keep her "off the streets" and "out of trouble." But trouble — better translated here as an adventure — waits in the wings after Lonnie meets Karen (Rainbow Harvest), a streetwise Italian girl who lives nearby in a walkup apartment with her working-class parents and handsome older brother Johnny (Neill Barry).

The two teenagers are ripe for new experiences, and their very different backgrounds give them room for dialogue. Lonnie knows a lot about vichyssoise and table manners while Karen gets her bright red lipstick just right and dresses like a petite Cosmo girl. Lonnie's values are tested when she goes shoplifting on a dare from Karen and gets caught. She learns about Catholic repentance during a quick trip to church for prayer and confession.

Old Enough is the first directorial effort for Marisa Silver, and it is a salutary one indeed. The story line nicely depicts the power plays between the girls as they discover fresh aspects of their own personalities and sexuality. Karen becomes defensive when her brother makes a play for the tomboyish Lonnie, and the two girls learn something about sexual politics from the private life of Carla (Roxanne Hart), a voluptuous beautician who moves in upstairs from Karen.

Coming of age can be a baffling and exciting stage of life, and this film conveys both qualities in an entertaining way. The cinematography by Michael Ballhaus is crisp, and the pop music on the soundtrack by Julian Marshall lends just the right dash of punk without being intrusive.

Special features on the DVD include an audio commentary with star Sarah Boyd and director Marisa Silver and an On-Camera Interview with star Roxanne Hart.