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|Reviews by Rich Cline | See also: SHADOWS FILM FESTIVAL | Last update 14.Jan.21
Boys Feels: High Tide
Reviews by Rich Cline
release UK/US 15.Jan.21
21/UK NQV 1h33
With four short films from four European countries, this collection of youthful seaside dramas has a strongly emotional kick to it. Each short uses an open-handed storytelling style, finely unfolding through the point of view of a boy who is only just beginning to discover and express his independence (in two cases this involves sexuality). And each is strikingly well-produced to feature-film standard, facing a delicate issue in ways that are both resonant and challenging.
dir-scr Emmanuel Laborie
with Adam Lenglen, Julia Faure, Michael Abiteboul, Cyrius Rosset, Stephane Blancafort, Ellie Etienne, Geraldine Sales, Michel Tavares
Underscored with a dark and moody sensibility, this nostalgic drama takes a relaxed and introspective look at a young boy as he begins to see the adult world around him. Writer-director Laborie shoots it skilfully in period style, with an emotive piano score by Emily Loizeau. Along with this, the performances are loose and improvisational, everyday life touched by both tragic events and moments of tenderness.
In the summer of 1979, 10-year-old Jean (Lenglen) is on a seaside holiday with his parents (Faure and Abiteboul) and his little brother Julien (Rosset) when he notices growing tension between his mum and dad. As they go to the beach and a funfair, various incidents and disagreements combine in scary ways. When there's a fatal accident on the beach, Jean feels that his happy life is far more fragile than he ever knew.
The actors bring an earthy authenticity to their roles, with superbly subtle performances from the expressive Faure and Abiteboul. Rosset provides sparky energy as the over-active Julien. And the camera sticks close to Lenglen's expressive face as he observes everything around him. The film adeptly captures his fascination with details, watching others on the beach, including a stranger (Balancafort) who strikes up a conversation with his dad. The film weaves these elements together beautifully, leaving the central themes unspoken even as they have a vivid impact.
dir Mari Sanders
scr Lianne Damen
with Jorrit de Jong, Bas Keijzer, Marleen Scholten, Gijs Rodolphe, Kees Boot, Jaap ten Holt, Remco Melles, Jan-Phil
Go Daan Go! Daan Durft
Lively and energetic, this family drama is cleverly made to capture the perspective of a young boy who can't quite understand why his parents won't let him pursue something he's good at. This rousing little film is sharply well shot and edited, brisk and engaging, but also digging under the surface to explore deeper thoughts and feelings, mixing parental concerns with childish exuberance.
When 9-year-old Daan (de Jong) discovers his mother's (Scholten) swimming medals in the attic, he decides to take up the sport himself. And his school coach sees that he has a natural talent. But his parents don't want him to swim competitively, worrying about a congenital health condition. They ask him to get tested by a doctor first, but Daan can't bear to wait three weeks for the results. So his father (Keijzer) keeps an eye on him.
Director Sanders skilfully depicts Daan's impatience about getting on with his life. So where the story goes is both gripping and empowering. De Jong fills the screen with personality as the young Daan. Watching his smiley face fall when his mother tells him to stop swimming is heartbreaking, countered by his steely determination. And both Keijzer and Scholten add wonderful layers to the story. It's a strong little drama about a young boy finding his passion and going for it, even if it means drawing a line with his family.
dir Friedrich Tiedtke
scr Ida Akerstrom Knudsen, Friedrich Tiedtke
with Mika Seidel, Barbara Philipp, Andreas Nickl, Fie London, Mikkel Jacobsen, Anders Khayat
The Boy in the Ocean
Strikingly shot largely at sea, this Danish film boldly addresses a topic that's rarely touched on in cinema: pre-adolescent sexuality. It's a sensitive, finely produced film that quietly tackles the topic in an unflinching, realistic way. It's a pointed approach that forces us to both remember our own awakening and respect the way young kids are feeling.
At 12, Mathias (Seidel) begins to have his first sense of sexuality while on a sailing trip with his parents (Philipp and Nickl). As they anchor near a small port, his yearnings begin to express themselves as he watches girls on the shore through his binoculars. In between fishing with his dad, he thinks about little else but taking the dingy to dry land so he can express these new feelings to one particular girl (London).
Director Tiedtke has a nicely offhanded filmmaking style, with minimal dialog adding texture to the powerfully observant imagery. Story elements are expressed obliquely, capturing Mathias' confusion and embarrassment. And each of the performances is remarkably grounded. Seidel has a terrific face, holding his thoughts in while unable to resist his curiosity. And where the story goes has a nuanced impact.
dir-scr Hannes Hirsch
with Tom Gramenz, Timo Jacobs, Lore Richter, Linda Poppel, Andrea Gabrin, Ira Wandschneider
Shot largely in close-up, this German drama sticks very closely to the perspective of a boy who's on the verge of becoming a man. Writer-director Hirsch takes a gritty approach that's infused with more deeply resonant feelings, including those that the central character is only beginning to understand. It's a clever look at a provocative topic, and both the acting and filmmaking are extremely well-observed.
Surly teenager Dimi (Gramenz) is spending the summer camping on the Baltic Sea with his older brother Steffen (Jacobs). On a side road, he discovers Isabelle and Conny (Richter and Poppel) asleep in a car, and becomes more than a little intrigued. Although this turns a bit sour when he discovers that Isabelle is actually Steffen's girlfriend. But Dimi has both boldness and inexperience on his side.
The film nicely captures the offbeat rhythms of a summer holiday where time doesn't seem to exist. And within this, the watchful performance by Gramenz holds the camera, subtly reacting to each unexpected slight from his sibling rival. The way he aggressively goes after Isabelle is a bit unnerving, but Gramenz plays it with a clumsy charm. And Richter reacts with terrific texture. The deliberately meandering pace pulls us into the story, heading to quiet discoveries and some punchy emotions.
See also: SHADOWS FILM FESTIVAL
© 2021 by Rich Cline, Shadows
on the Wall
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