Tuesday, November 08, 2005

DVD Review: Summer Storm

Camp as a rower in tents: Summer Storm
If you are one of those people who wonder how you should define a 'gay film', Summer Storm (Sommersturm) will provide all the answers since it ticks all the boxes of the sub-genre. No, it's not porn and there are no drag-queens. But if there is one type of gay film that really epitomises the genre is the coming-out movie because it puts 'being gay' (or, as they used to say, 'homosexuality') at the heart of the conflict.
Gay films tend to be quite conventional since they have a story to tell and some preaching to do. Summer Storm is no exception and followa all the rules in the book, so experimental cinema lovers can look for their wobbly camera work and elliptical editing elsewhere. Directed by Marco Kreuzpaintner, it is set in the world of German high schools and summer camps (I know). Robert Stadlober plays Tobi, the leader of the rowing team who is in love with his best friend, Achim (Kostja Ullmann - that's a boy's name, by the way). The friends wank and smoke pot together and poor Tobi has to endure the obscure object of his desire talking about a girl. In short, typical teenage stuff with a very strong influence of American teen movies, both in terms of narrative and style - there's even some soft rock music in the soundtrack, a fact that gives further ammunition to those who like to detract the German taste in pop music.
Tobi's big coming out moment will take place al fresco, by a beautiful crystalline lake. It just so happens that one of the competing rowing teams at the summer camp is gay: they hail from Berlin (this is Germany, after all) and are called Queerschlag. A stolen kiss from one of the queer rowers and Tobi is off on his path t0 gay happiness, not before having to confront his girl-suitor Anken, who turns out to be very understanding indeed, and have a bonding moment with Achim, who looks more gay than he does.
Summer Storm looks like the gay film Leni Riefenstahl would have made if she had grown into an old lesbian auntie while retaining her penchant for youth in action and love of the body beautiful and the mountains. The naivete of the film at first irritates those who need their daily dose of irony, but somehow the film wins you over as it progresses. Perhaps we still need films with basic lessons like this one, after all.
Summer Storm is release on DVD on 14/11/05.

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