Quand On A 17 Ans (Being 17)
We all remember being 17 with fondness. The confusion, the hope, the hormones, first love, the fear of being misunderstood and cast out. The protagonists in Quand On A 17 Ans, Damien (Kacey Mottet Klein) and Thomas (Corentin Fila), come from different backgrounds, but both experience all of the above. Their relationship starts with violence as they constantly pick on each other at school, despite the fact that they are both outsiders. Their destinies and their families are inextricably linked when, after Thomas’ grades suffer and his adoptive mother becomes pregnant after a long history of miscarriages, Damien’s mother invites him to live with her and Damien to ease their situation.
André Techiné is known for his ability to create emotional battlefields, where the characters clash and harmonise with one another, without delving into sentimentality, and he has surpassed himself here. The plot deftly juggles themes of race, class, homosexuality, grief and, most importantly, youth, brought to life by an understated cast who imbue the script with a modest warmth and grace. Set against the sumptuous backdrop of the Midi Pyrenees region in the South West of France, the film acts as a love letter to Techiné’s native land. The mountains and lakes are where Thomas seeks solace and where he finally opens up to Damien. Nature is where the characters learn to face what scares them the most and move forward. The setting itself becomes a character; the seasons change as radically as those who endure them.
The momentum of the film swells, and the dynamic between the two young men swings to dizzying heights in the third act, marked by the death of Damien’s military father. The narrative is constructed in episodes that reveal more and more of what lies beneath. Each episode is another piece in the complex, humanist jigsaw Techiné expertly creates. A compelling saga that holds no punches, and a strong frontrunner to take the Golden Bear.
Quand On A 17 Ans (Being 17) does not have a UK release date yet.
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Watch the trailer for Quand On A 17 Ans (Being 17) here: