At an elite private Border School four students form a clique to sneak out of school after hours to meet, drink and play. By trying to escape the golden cage which their wealthy parents ... See full summary »
At an elite private Border School four students form a clique to sneak out of school after hours to meet, drink and play. By trying to escape the golden cage which their wealthy parents have stuck them in, they search for the Extreme. In the course of time their excessive games grow more and more violent and soon they turn against the weakest of the group: Leibnitz. Dyrbusch (Leader of the pack) and Bogatsch (the executive power) continue to torture him, he voluntarily puts up with it because he can't manage to dispose of his tormentors, on one hand being afraid to loose their "Friendship" and on the other hand due to the consequences that might arise with his parents. Konstantin, the opportunist is the only one who sees through the moral magnitude of their games, but he hesitates too long not wanting to endanger the alleged common destiny that these boys in this school appear to have: their clique. They get caught deeper and deeper in this downward spiral of violence and peer ... Written by
Young director Stuber excels with explosive tale of pampered students who get out of hand
This accomplished hour-long first feature is set at a posh German boarding school. We know it's posh because it's in a dramatic mountain castle and there's a beautiful mountain lake; the photography shows a good eye, with a sense of what to show off and what not to reveal completely. The subject, after all, is something we never quite see -- not so much what's happening at any moment as the situation's growing potential for danger and violence. The scenes, often broken off abruptly, have an explosive, improvised feel that keeps you watching.
Four bad boys led by the bold, dominant Dyrbusch (Niklas Kohrt) form a kind of pact surrounding a nearby "dacha" hangout where they expound Nietschean fantasies and drink shots and snort crystal meth. Dyrbusch's second self is Bogatsch (Michael Ginsburg), who seems manifestly inferior, but brims over with sympathetic hostility and aggression. Konstantin (Franz Dinda) is just naive and curious. Von Leibnitz (Janusz Kocaj) is strange, needy, an outsider, but also brilliant, an aristocrat, perhaps of homoerotic appeal to the leaders with his soft looks and long hair. Though all four, drunk, after bathing nude, threaten a girl called Vaneska (Stephanie Schönfeld), with possible rape, Konstantin and Von Leibnitz have second thoughts and from then on a dangerous dynamic of conflict arises. Plainly two of the bad boys aren't bad enough to suit the other two. Von Leibnitz becomes the all-too-willing torture object of the two boldest and most psychopathic boys; Konstantin, having second thoughts, wants to opt out.
A big, paunchy, but nicely dressed teacher-mentor (Michael Schweighöfer) is the only authority figure seen. He tries by a show of ease and self confidence to mask the fact that among these moneyed delinquents he may not have the last word. Events do turn tragic and in an unexpected and ironic manner.
The story has familiar elements; the outline has strong echoes of 'Young Torless.' But the telling has a raw contemporary feel. There's a fresh sense of danger and near-hysteria about many scenes -- something tricky to create, and trickier to keep from overwhelming the narrative. Director Thomas Stuber, who was only 26 when he made this film but had six years of apprenticeship behind him, gets intense performances out of his actors. In some of the group sequences, especially the near-rape, you may forget anyone is acting, yet to balance that, the setup is classically cinematic. The economical editing maintains the nice balance between chaos and order. Stuber shows a lot of promise. The writing of Holger Jäckle is praiseworthy too.
'Teenage Angst' is a recent release by Picture This!, the indie distributor of mostly foreign coming of age and gay-related films (e.g. 'Garcon Stupide,' 'Come Undone,''Aimee and Jaguar,''Before the Fall') that as of Nov. 2009 has closed its doors after 13 years. 'Angst" and Angelina Maccarone's (2006, also German) 'Punish Me' ('Verfogt') are examples that Picture This! is a niche loss that will be felt both by viewers and by the industry. This comes on top of the greater loss of pre-eminent foreign film distributor New Yorker Films, which shut down earlier this year after 44 years and was responsible for the US release of many foreign classics.
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