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|Reviews by Rich Cline | See also: SHADOWS FILM FESTIVAL | Last update 27.Dec.21
New Queer Visions: The Last Days of Innocence
Reviews by Rich Cline
release UK 27.Dec.21
21/UK NQV 1h42
Youthful longing is the topic for these four shorts that confront the moment when real life interrupts childish fantasies. These are serious films, beautifully well made, and each features terrific performances from young actors alongside its first-rate production values. In their stories, these sensitive dramas tap into that disorienting point when we begin to see the world in a new way that's perhaps not so welcome.
dir-scr Benoit Duvette
with Paul Lecomte, Simon Royer
Set in an eerily mystical fern forest, this French short has an insistent tone, which filmmaker Benoit Duvette provides using a jarring underscore that contrasts with a poetic, yearning voiceover. With its characters moving in virtual slow motion, the film is evocative and thoughtful, and it's packed with striking imagery. But what it's saying remains clouded in mystery.
The film artfully observes two teen boys (Lecomte and Royer) as they are on the run, hiding out near a lake, sleeping in a rusted-out car. They bond over an ear piercing, but someone is chasing them. "You can't follow me anymore," one says, as they separate. Then one ends up in the water swimming for his life while the other performs a ritual in the ferns.
The film looks terrific, illuminated with an almost otherworldly light while capturing a sense of youthful desperation. There's barely any dialog, and the way scenes are intercut out of sequence creates a narrative that's fragmented and more than a little perplexing. So while the feelings are vivid, Duvette's deliberately disorienting, enigmatic approach ultimately leaves us rather lost.
dir-scr Simon Guelat
with Paulin Jaccoud, Schemci Lauth, Jocelyne Desverchere, Bastian Verdina, Sebastien Vitali, Anthony Vuignier, Viviane Pavillon
Beautifully shot in spectacular locations, this quietly involving Swiss drama centres on an androgynous teen boy who makes an unexpected friend. Writer-director Simon Guelat skilfully gets under the skin of this character, revealing underlying emotions in a story that's surprising and involving. It also touches on some bigger themes in a way that's both thoughtful and provocative
Living with his mother (Desverchere) at a ski station in the off-season, teen Alban (Jaccoud) is briefly trapped in a gondola with workman Julien (Lauth), who shares the name of the hero in the book Alban is reading. When they agree to meet later, Alban's mother refuses to let him go, insisting that he helps with her work. So he sneaks out when she falls asleep. And in their secret encounters, Alban begins to feel like the novel's romantic interest Aline.
Superbly underplayed by Jaccoud, Alban's interest is clear, as is the fact that he has no idea how to express it. He and Desverchere also sharply create a sense of the bond between mother and son, even if she seems rather oblivious. But it's in the growing connection between Alban and Lauth's conflicted Julien that the film catches our imagination. And as the snow begins to fall, and Julien faces the reality of homophobic peer pressure, the film reveals an important understated message about living authentically.
dir-scr Andrey Volkashin
with Vedran Delidzakov, Marijan Najdovski, Gabriela Petrusevska, Borce Nacev, Vaska Angelova, Kostadin Uznov, Dimitar Stojchevski, Marija Ilkova
There's a cheeky comical energy to this little drama from Macedonia, even as it takes on some very serious themes. Shot in a square frame, the film catches the childish energy of its young characters, while also touching on the much darker adult world they are beginning to encounter. A sharp young cast brings the characters to life, with a nicely loose writing and directing approach by Andrey Volksashin.
A group of preteens in a small town are playing by a lake when they find a dead snake and begin teasing each other with it. Running to hide from a friend, the sparky 9-year-old Mario (Delidzakov) meets Borche (Najdovski), a social outcast due to his colourfully flamboyant appearance. Borche also has a pet snake, which fascinates Mario. Although Mario is too young to understand why grown-ups are so terrified of Borche.
Mario's parents (Petrusevska and Nacev) are harshly insistent on traditional gender roles, freaking out when they find Mario and his friends playing with cross-dressing. His father's homophobia is particularly hideous, thinking the solution is a good beating while his mother has no choice but to helplessly look on. Of course, this teaches Mario and his friends all the wrong lessons, leading to a moment that's both heart-stopping and hopeful.
dir-scr Dominik Gyorgy
with Herman Tajovsky, Krystof Brand, Lida Jakubuv, Jana Olhova, Vaclav Bartak, Erika Starkova, Irena Erbenova, Martin Bares
The Touching Dotýkání
Shot in artful black and white, this Czech short touches on a taboo subject with sensitivity and honesty. Skilfully written and directed by Dominik Gyorgy, the film has a lovely mix of earthy authenticity and cinematic timelessness. It's an unusually insightful exploration of a fairly universal experience that pretty much everyone is afraid to talk about.
Living with their frazzled mother (Jakubuv), the energetic young David (Tajovsky) and his big brother Marek (Brand) share a room. Marek is old enough to understand that their father is never coming home, while David is still hopeful that he'll be back in time to launch his Titanic model. Then as Marek begins to discover girls, David doesn't understand why Marek is no longer interested in the physical closeness they've been enjoying in secret.
Without ever being distasteful, the level of detail in this film is astonishing, allowing the characters to come to life in remarkably complex ways. And each performance is excellent, most notably from young Tajovsky as the expressive, short-fused David. Gyorgy cleverly uses silence to let ideas sink in without overstating anything. This allows the film to capture the innocence of these brothers as their relationship, and seemingly the whole world, begins to shift.
See also: SHADOWS FILM FESTIVAL
© 2021 by Rich Cline, Shadows
on the Wall
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