Friday, 24 March 2017

On Blu-ray - David Hare welcomes a return to form for Andre Techine and his AT 17

Kacey Mottet Klein
The screen caps show Kacey Mottet Klein, Alexis Loret as the young friends, then adversaries, then lovers, and Sandrine Kimberlain, the mother in between. 

The movie is Quand on a 17 Ans/"At 17" (2016) from Andre Techine,  who turned the ripe old age of 75 a week or so ago. The movie is a real explosion of energy and commitment after several years of rather diffuse and unimpressive offerings from the director of the early breakthrough gay coming of age feature, Les Roseaux Sauvages/Wild Reeds back in 1994.

Alexis Loret
One of the driving forces behind Roseaux, and Techine then, was his writer, Jacques Nolot, another gay artist, very much on the "inside" whose own films as director are alas largely ignored outside the gay genre ghetto, but are worth reviewing (especially La Chatte a Deux Tetes/Porn Theatre (2002) and Avant que j'Oublie /Before I Forget (2010). Personal insight such as Nolot's was I feel one of the key elements that went missing during the last ten years or so in Techine's films.

For this very late career picture one of his chosen writers, and surely the major energy behind the three characters, is Celine Sciamma, by now well known to Francocinephiles for her own movies, Tomboy (2011) and Bande des Filles/ GIrlhood (2015.)

Kacey Mottet Klein & Sandrine Kimberlian
The movie has had a fairly quick BD release after limited screenings on a Strand Releasing Blu-ray (region free). Strand is a US outfit noted for queer cinema catalogue. I hope the picture gets a wider audience outside the usual festivals. One of both Techine's and Sciamma's strengths in these three way dramas of two teenagers and one parent is the depth and nuance given to the normally forlorn parent who is traditionally shown one dimensionally as someone to simply abreact and play the bastard of the show. Sandrine KImberlain here as the mother holds the screen whenever she's in scene. Recommended.

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