10th October 2016 9.15am at Vue West End
11th October 2016 1.15pm at BFI Southbank (NFT)
16th October 2016 8.45am at Ciné Lumière
André Téchiné’s sexual awakening drama, Being 17, is a simple but emotionally powerful film dealing with issues of adolescent sexual confusion and grief.
Damien (Kacey Mottet Klein) and Thomas (Corentin Fila) are in the same class at school and have an inexplicable dislike for one another, leading to constant physical fights. Travelling over an hour to school, trekking through snowy mountains, and also helping his father on their farm, Thomas is invited by Damien’s mother (Sandrine Kiberlain) to stay with them in their house to improve his grades and his relationship with her son.
Set in rural France, shots of towering snow capped mountains and stretches of white fields make Being 17 a visually impressive representation of the French countryside. Split up into three parts, the film uses the pregnancy of Thomas’s adopted mother’s pregnancy as a focus for the plot development. For each of her trimesters, the relationship between Damien and Thomas evolves, reaching greater depths and intensity. As the dramatic snow melts away into a vibrant spring, the boys become evidently freer to express and enjoy themselves in ways that were limited during the winter months. As they both experience personal anxieties and grief, the birth of Thomas’s sister is a clear relief to the uneasiness he feels within himself.
The theme of teenage sexual awakening is hardly innovative, thus the scripts of these types of films always run the risk of sounding trite; however, co-written by Téchiné and Céline Sciamma, the script captures the nuanced realities of being at an age where adulthood is at your doorstep. It is, on the whole, a balanced and carefully timed film that avoids tired stereotypes. Stark camerawork and strong performances from Mottet Klein, Fila, and Kiberlain propel Being 17 forwards as a delicately intricate story of accumulated desires and love.
Being 17 does not have a UK release date yet.
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