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BEING 17 (Quand on a 17 ans)

Directed by André Téchiné
116 min | 2016 | France | Not Rated
Presented in French with English subtitles

Cast: Sandrine Kiberlain, Kacey Mottet Klein, Corentin Fila, Alexis Loret

A national treasure in France, writer and director André Téchiné continues his storied career with his new film, Being 17. Returning to the roots of his post-New Wave style of filmmaking, Téchiné creates a compact drama that plays out against an imposing mountain backdrop.

Damien is the pampered teenage son of a soldier and a doctor. He lives with his mother in an army barracks in the south of France while his father is on a military mission in the Central African Republic. But Damien must adopt a new, defiant stance in high school to stave off the bullies who taunt him over his effeminate ways: a friend of his father’s is teaching him to wrestle.

When he meets Tom, the adopted son of local farmers, the antagonism between the two boys is immediate and visceral. When Tom’s mother has to go to the hospital, Damien’s mother quite naturally offers to take care of Tom, and the tension between the two boys becomes almost overwhelming.

Kacey Mottet Klein and Corentin Fila are utterly engrossing as Damien and Tom, and every glance and gesture sensitively captures their exhilarating chemistry. Téchiné’s film breathes with a poetic temperance that marks it as a beautifully structured, finely acted ballad of teenage angst and passion.

Official Selection: 2016 Damn These Heels Film Festival, 2016 Berlin International Film Festival, 2016 Provincetown International Film Festival, 2016 OutFest LGBT Film Festival, Frameline40

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