Dir: Stefan Krohmer. Ger. 2006. 97mins.
The certainties of life are shattered bythe presence of a disturbingly mature adolescent girl in Summer 04, aconstantly engrossing tale of shifting relationships and challengedperceptions. A smartly observed screenplay places well-developed charactersinto a series of situations that never unfold entirely as the audience mighthave predicted.
There'sa hint of Michael Haneke in the sense of unease thatbuilds over a family holiday and an echo of Roman Polanski'sKnife In The Water as various significantsailing trips develop into an emotional battleground. A sharp work from theteam of director Stefan Krohmer and screenwriterDaniel Nocke, this low key but acute drama - which playedin Directors' Fortnight at Cannes - should attract wider festival exposure andthe possibility of theatrical interest, especially within Europe.
Krohmer's screenplay provides a stellar role for MostlyMartha's Martina Gedeck as Miriam, a 40-year oldwoman who seems to be in complete control of her life. On a family holiday, sheand husband Andre (Robert Seeliger) adopt a laidback,liberal attitude to her 15-year old son Niels (Lucas Kotaranin) and his 12-year old girlfriend Livia (Svea Lohde).They set no boundaries and never claim the moral high ground. The fact that Livia is sensible and wise beyond her years makes thesituation credible.
Then,Livia starts to spend time with Bill (Peter Davor) an older man troubled by his instant attraction tothe young girl. "She is probably having sex. What's the problem'" demands Niels.
Itbecomes a problem for the increasingly agitated Miriam who believes she shouldstep in, take responsibility for the girl and set some limits. We begin tosuspect her motivations are not entirely altruistic as she too is attracted bythe handsome charmer and perhaps even sees Livia as arival.
InSummer '04, Liviaserves the dramatic purpose of a pebble thrown into a pond. The ripples arereflected in the people around her as long held assumptions about loyalty, trust and togetherness are cast aside. These themesare not treated in any great melodramatic fashion. This is not a thriller but apsychological exploration of the little shifts in the relationships between Livia, Miriam and the men.
Theextent of Miriam's commitment to Bill may stretch credibility and the pacing ofthe film may flag in places but there are always fresh revelations that keepthe story interesting and strong performances from the women who have the bestwritten roles. Striding around and always taking charge, Gedeckexpertly plays a confident woman oblivious to the fact that she cannot alwayscontrol other people or even her own emotions.
Bythe end of the film everything she once took for granted has crumbled and sheseems far from confident when she claims to have found happiness. Svea Lohde is equally assured asa teen who eschews the Lolita stereotype to present a figure who is more of acool-headed equal than a baby doll distraction.
Bavaria Film International