Summer Storm (Sommersturm)
Director: Marco Kreuzpaintner. Cast: Robert Standlober, Kostja Ullmann, Alicja Bachleda-Curus, Miriam Morgenstern, Jürgen Tonkel, Tristano Casanova, Joseph M'Barek, Roman Storm, Marlon Kittel, Hanno Koffler, Michael Wiesner, Benjamin Vilzmann, Jeff Fischer. Screenplay: Thomas Bahmann and Marco Kreuzpaintner.

Summer Storm colors obediently within the lines of just about every coming-out and coming-of-age drama that you've ever seen, blithely offering up pretty young things in the teenaged flush of sexual self-recognition, but managing not to drool all over them in Larry Clark style. There are no ethnopolitical ambitions to stumble over, as in the recent non-starter Grande école, but nor are there any to enrich and contextualize the material, as in the superior Wild Reeds, nor quite enough of the mature, engaging humanism of Beautiful Thing. The movie is sensitive and appealing but not inordinately insightful. Its fingers are credibly planted on the pulse of young, inchoate masculinity, but with only a fraction of Y tu mamá también's depth-perception, and the film's brain and its energy shut off almost totally with regard to its female characters. The crucial scene of sexual discovery is much more sensuous and believable than is customary for this genre, but on the downside, its organizing metaphor of the summer storm—rolling, if you must know, through a summer training-camp for high-school rowers—is even more literal and redundant than the usual fare. The performances, especially by the lead player Robert Standlober and by Alicja Bachleda-Curus as his nonplussed girlfriend, are likeable and competent, if not pronouncedly memorable. The almost jubilant conclusion risks wiping our memories of all the other textures in the preceding film. Are you getting the drift of all this? It's not a film I can imagine anyone clutching to their hearts, but nor is it one to avoid or upbraid. Did the world need it? Probably not. In the brief running time of Summer Storm, I thought of other places I could just have well have been spending those minutes, other movies I could be watching, or even re-watching. But the film's basic disposability emanates from a fair and honest place. There is nothing cynical or self-defeating in how it entertains us, and if it ultimately marks a rehearsal for better films from its cast and director, or for parallel epiphanies and self-acceptance among its audience, the movie's missions can be considered fulfilled. C

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