Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Summer '04 (German)

Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Twisted Thriller Threads Trio of Teutons in Tawdry Triangle

Nils (Lucas Kotaranin) had no idea what he was in store for him when his much younger girlfriend’s parents agreed to let their precocious daughter spend the summer with his family at their spacious place on the coast of the Baltic Sea. Though only 12, Livia (Svea Lohde) was very mature for her age, which is why she soon found herself bored even by her 15 year-old beau.
Consequently, she befriends Bill (Robert Seeliger), a thirtysomething beach boy who recently returned to his native Germany from America following his father’s death in a car accident. He’s a confirmed bachelor who hates himself so much for having slept indiscriminately with over a hundred empty-headed bimbos back in the States that he has turned into a hermit in order to save himself for a meaningful relationship.
When he and Livia start going for those proverbial long walks along the shore, it looks like Bill’s wait might already be over. So, Nils mom, Miriam (Martina Gedeck), intervenes. Afterall, the pre-pubescent adolescent has been entrusted to her care, plus the naughty nymphet has taken to ignoring her son, who’s supposed to be her heartthrob.
However, because 40 year-old Miriam’s own relationship with live-in lover, Andre (Peter Davor), has lost its spark, the question arises in the back of her mind whether she might really wants to separate Bill from his tempting jailbait more out of jealousy than a sincere concern for her welfare. The answer arrives when she ventures over to his house to confront him about his intentions.
At first, he feigns innocence, declaring that of course he wouldn’t think of committing statutory rape, and a relieved Miriam seduces him on the spot. Next, the two plunge into a passionate affair, only to have him break it off abruptly several compromising positions later, confessing that he has fallen head over heels for his little Lolita.
At this juncture, Miriam has less leverage to complain, since she is not without sin and still wants his bod badly. Plus, he holds over her head a thinly-veiled threat to expose her for cheating on Andre.
This is the intriguing romantic roundelay at the center of Summer ’04, as twisted and steamy a psychological thriller as you could hope to find, provided you’re not put off by the pedophilia coursing through the plotline. The film works because each character carries off his or her role with perfect aplomb, and is absolutely convincing in spite of several unseemly scenarios which sound patently preposterous on their face.
Between the sharp contrast of the expansive cinematic capture of the bracing seascapes and the claustrophobic stolen moments of forbidden love, three Oles to director Stefan Krohmer for exploring a shocking taboo without allowing a tawdry tale to dissolve into a predictable morality play about cradle-robbing.
Ole! Ole! Ole!

Excellent (4 stars)
In German with subtitles
Running time: 97 minutes
Studio: The Cinema Guild

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