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|Reviews by Rich Cline | See also: SHADOWS FILM FESTIVAL | Last update 10.Aug.21
Boys Feels: I Love Trouble
Reviews by Rich Cline
release UK 13.Aug.21
21/UK NQV 1h37
Five European short films follow teens into transgressive situations, with eye-opening results. Each of these films provokes the audience as these young men, often isolated from each other, make decisions that will affect their lives. The filmmakers are exploring how ideas of masculinity inform our relationships with society and nature. And in these boys' eyes, the early dawning of understanding is powerfully moving.
dir Sarah Veltmayer
scr Tom Bakker
with Jordy Coens, Hanneke Scholten, Jan den Broeder, Rijk Vollaers, Samuel van den Broek, Faith Verheek, Sarah Aubroek, Imme van der Velde
With understated dialog and a quiet sense of authenticity, this Dutch drama closely follows a young man whose life feels like it's shifting both internally and all around him. This makes the film feel somewhat lightweight, as much of what's really happening here exists only in the subtext. But it's beautifully shot and edited, with a solidly naturalistic cast. And it cleverly leaves its challenging ideas floating in the air.
The film centres on a teenager who sticks mainly to himself. Leon (Coens) lives in a small port town surrounded by colourful people who can't be bothered to understand him. He has a warm, wry relationship with his mother Ilona (Scholten), but even she isn't sure what he's up to. So he prefers his own company, often hiding out on the old boat his father is unable to sell. But he continues to be bullied by other kids, and he finally snaps when his mother starts a relationship with a biker neighbour.
Coens is so strikingly beautiful that it's hard to imagine that people simply ignore him. So when he begins to act out, director Veltmayer vividly captures his inner frustration, putting the audience into his shoes and forcing us to discover what's going on inside. As his mother, Scholten has a striking edge, unpredictable even in the way she loves and understands her son. And it's this nicely underplayed relationship that brings the film to life.
dir Gabriele Urbonaite
scr Gabriele Urbonaite, Tomas Vengris
with Lukas Auksoraitis, Karolina Kildaite, Sarunas Zenkevicius, Sonata Visockaite, Simas Vegelis, Evelina Bredikyte, Vanda Bortko, Justas Venckus
The Last Day of School Paskutinis Skambutis
Low-key and earthy, this drama traces a moral dilemma in the life of a teen who's still working out what to do with his life. While the premise feels a bit simplistic, and the surrounding characters are very schematic, filmmaker Urbonaite keeps everything introspective, centring on feelings and decisions rather than the more scripted plot points. That said, it's far too specifically pointed for its own good.
With the school term ending, Edgaras (Auksoraitis) is thinking about his future, including whether he'll move to the Vilnius with his girlfriend Migle (Kildaite), a star student who's preparing to attend law school. Then his best pal Viktoras (Zenkevicius) asks him to join in a money-making scam smuggling cigarettes across the border from Belarus. Edgaras wants to escape Viktoras' criminal shadow, but struggles to resist the chance to earn some cash. But he knows this could jeopardise his future.
There's a quiet intensity to the way the film is shot and edited, and the performances remain shaded and darkly dramatic. While Kildaite's model student is a bit too good to be true, and Zenkevicius's smirking lowlife is far too shifty, Auksoraitis gives Edgaras a soulful quality that transcends some big events that nudge the film in a rather preachy direction, which makes this feel rather a lot like an educational movie.
dir-scr Simon Guelat
with Simon Boutin, Devi Couzigou, Marie Millot, Miya Pechillon, Gaetan Vourc'h
Tree House Cabane
Almost a half-hour long, this French drama skilfully uses this time to subtly establish both the story and characters, pulling the audience in by generating curiosity and sympathy. It's a sharply well-observed tale about kids in that undefined space between childhood and young adulthood, shot with a fine sense of the offbeat outdoor settings. Writer-director Guelat also sharply captures the rhythms of a friendship as it begins to shift into something else entirely.
Over the summer, four teens sneak into a military zone and build an elaborate treehouse in the woods by a lake. Agathe (Pechillon) relishes being a grown-up, smoking and flirting, and she also starts a mud-fight. And Coralie (Millot) goes along with the crowd. Meanwhile, Denis (Boutin) watches everyone carefully, especially his best pal Mathieu (Couzigou), trying to work out what Mathieu is thinking about how everything between them seems to be changing.
Along with the gorgeous cinematography, there are several quiet incidents along the way, including a soldier (Vourc'h) who discovers their hideout and escorts them out of the base, then later wordlessly lets Denis back in. Each of the actors is excellent at finding rhythms in their loose interaction. At the centre Boutin has terrific presence, a boy grappling with how to respond to more adult situations and discovering that his best friend is growing up in his own way. And this is only the beginning of his self-discovery.
dir Giancarlo Sanchez
scr Joeri Kloppert
with Thijs Boermans, Tobias Kersloot, Sjeng Kessels, Tarik Moree, Harriet Stroet, Martijn Nieuwerf, Hanna Eenhoorn, Debbie Korper
Infused with that energetically youthful feeling of invincibility, this Dutch drama has a sharply realistic edge to it, shot like a documentary even as it digs beneath the surface of its central characters. These are smart, resourceful teens who think they have found the ultimate path to independence, but they lack the discernment to see the bigger picture. The storytelling is rather overwhelmingly cautionary, but also engaging and involving.
Four lively friends love to tease each other and laugh at everyone around them. And on one raucous night they impulsively sneak into their school and steal the exam papers. Afterwards, they concoct a plan to sell them to their classmates. Amazed that they're getting away with this, they relish their notoriety, living the high life and thinking that this is the way forward for them to make a living. They're simply unable to imagine that they might be caught.
Director Sanchez cleverly lets these young actors loose, improvising their actions and dialog to create strikingly engaging situations that bristle with attitude. The four central guys are sharply well-played as a unit by Boermans, Kersloot, Kessels and Moree, only rarely showing glimpses of their individual personalities as they always have each others' backs. So where all of this goes is fascinating, zeroing in on the charismatic Boermans to add an intimacy to the narrative before delivering a gut-punch.
dir Michael Dichter
scr Michael Dichter, Marie Monge
with Vivian Oudin, Maximilien Decorse, Tom-Eliott Fosse-Taurel, Gregory Gatignol, Marie Lanchas, Mathieu Lourdel, Elef Zack, Noa Bertonniere
Grounded in current economic realities, this small-town French drama centres on three teens trying to have a semblance of a summer while their town struggles to survive. Produced to feature-film standards with an unusually knotted plot for a short, it's sharply well performed by its young cast, as director Dichter skilfully captures a striking mix of ingenuity, desperation and stupidity.
As the big factory in town closes, summer camp is cancelled for the children of the employees, who are preoccupied with fighting their corporate bosses. This leaves the kids to just hang out together. And buddies Vivian, Max and Tom (Oudin, Decorse and Fosse-Taurel) decide to raise some cash to get out of town, and also to help Vivian pay back a thug (Gatignol). Together, they hatch a risky plan to go on a thieving spree using a scooter to swoop in on victims. And of course the situation takes a nasty turn.
The perilous nature of their actions causes fissures to appear within the relationship between these three friends, as each weighs up whether the danger is worth it. The convolutions of the situation aren't always clear, with a range of shouty parents and menacing side characters who add to the internal tensions these kids are dealing with. And for the three central boys, the scariest thought is that one of them has perhaps already betrayed their trust.
See also: SHADOWS FILM FESTIVAL
© 2021 by Rich Cline, Shadows
on the Wall
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