Being 17
Quand on a 17 ans

DIRECTOR: André Téchiné

Bay Area Premiere

Ah, youth, that time of life when hormonal imperatives take over and confusion reigns. For Thomas and Damien, high school classmates in the remote French Pyrenees, increased testosterone and unspoken feelings have created a rivalry they find difficult to understand, leading to occasional outbursts of violence. The two couldn’t be more different: Thomas (striking newcomer Corentin Fila) is the adopted child of rural mountain farmers, commuting by bus and foot for more than three hours to get to and from school. Damien (Kacey Mottet Klein) is more urbane, sporting an earring and declaiming Rimbaud in class. As the boys’ animosity intensifies, Damien’s mother, Marianne, the village physician—a wonderfully warm Sandrine Kiberlain (Violette, Frameline38)—finds herself treating Thomas’s mother for a difficult pregnancy and invites Thomas to live with them for a while. The boys’ increased proximity, and the pressure to put aside their differences under Marianne’s watchfulness, may lead to a detente, but it also sets the stage for a complicated emotional reckoning for both of them.

More than 20 years ago, director André Téchiné’s Wild Reeds, a study of gay adolescence, became an instant classic, and he returns to similar themes with Being 17. If anything, this new effort is even more complex and alluring, exploring the sometimes too-close connection between attraction and violence, the push and pull of family ties, and Thomas’s passion for nature. Gloriously filmed in the mountains of southwest France, and with delicately nuanced performances from the entire cast, Being 17 is another masterwork from Téchiné (whose The Witnesses opened Frameline31).

— Rod Armstrong

In French with English subtitles.

AT&T Audience Award Text Voting Code: F104

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