Summer Storm (2004)

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Overall Rating 73%
Overall Rating
Ranked #3,520
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Tobi and Achim, the pride of the local crew club, have been the best of friends for years and are convinced that nothing will ever stand in the way of their friendship. They look forward to the upcoming summer camp and the crew competition. Achim's girlfriend Sandra is on the girl's team and he enjoys spending more time with her. Tobi becomes increasingly skeptical of their relationship. Anke, the pretty girl who has fallen for Tobi, doesn't make things any easier, then the gay team from Berlin arrives and Tobi is totally confused. The storm that breaks out the evening before the race begins is more than meteorological in this sensitive story about the complexities of growing up. --IMDb
Review by bluemeanie
Added: May 01, 2006
At every single film festival I attend, there is always one 'diamond in the rough' -- one gem that sticks with me long after I leave the theatre; a film of immense power and top notch entertainment value. At last year's Sidewalk Film Festival, this picture was the amazing "Reel Paradise". At the Birmingham Shout! inaugural film festival, this picture was "Summer Storm". This was one of the most heartfelt and genuine films I have seen in a long time, filled with depth, humor, relevance, and all of those other little tidbits of wisdom that makes a film so remarkable. Watching "Summer Storm", I felt very much like I was watching one of the true great films of the year that would probably go unnoticed by most, thanks largely to a subject matter than not even two gay cowboys could make universally appealing enough for this film to post impressive North American box office returns. But, even if I am the only Alabama resident to remember this film in ten years, my experience was still all the more genuine.

This is, essentially, the story of Tobi (Robert Stadlober) and Achim (Kostja Ullmann). Both are stars on their school's rowing team, both have beautiful girls who want them very badly, and both share a very strong friendship. Soon on, however, we start to see that Tobi has feelings for Achim that Achim doesn't necessarily have for Tobi. This all culminates when the rowing team heads off to camp before the big event, where everyone stays in tents by the river, and where everyone gets involved in the usual youthful misadventures one associates with camp. The Bavarian rowing team is camped right next to another team that goes by the name The Queerstrokes -- they are all homosexual, and have no desire to hide their sexuality. This makes most of the rowers uncomfortable, but not Tobi. Most of the humor derives from the Queerstrokes interacting with the straight rowers on the Bavarian team. The film primarily deals with Tobi watching in jealousy as Achim and his girlfriend lead up towards their first time, Tobi's budding relationship with a member of the Queerstrokes team, and the drama and turmoil that surfaces when Tobi can't keep his secret hidden any longer, all leading up to the 'summer storm' referred to in the film's title.

For starters, this film was beautifully shot. It captures all the youth and magic of summer and it especially brings into light some of those gentle and subtle moments that most people let slip by without ever realizing how much they mean. Director Marco Kreuzpaintner does a miraculous job of displaying the innocence of these two boys and the early stages when their friendship is so strong, when Achim doesn't suspect anything and Tobi can pretty much get exactly what he wants without anyone being the wiser. One of my favorite scenes comes when Tobi is left all alone with the Queerstrokes rowing team and he really doesn't know what to do. He knows they know his secret, but should he admit it or deny it? The next sequences are so sweet and so innocent that they bring a whole new layer to the picture. The sequences with the storm are equally as powerful and genuine, especially when Tobi finds himself alone in the shower, with only the hot shower water to keep him warm. This is the kind of film that will help young gay teens come to terms with their identity -- yes -- this is the film.

In terms of performances, all are well rounded and unique. Robert Stadlober and Kostja Ullmann, as Tobi and Achim, are the nucleus of the film, and supporting performances by Jurgen Tonkel as the coach and Hanno Koffler as the instigator on the Queerstrokes team help anchor the weight of the film. There really wasn't a performance I did not enjoy. I also liked the use of American alternative music as the background for a lot of the action, with songs provided by Nada Surg, Vast, The Go Betweens, and several other noted acts. And, take a look at the opening sequence, with the two boys working out. It was eerily similar to the opening sequence of "Billy Elliot" is energy, attitude and emotional impact. "Summer Storm" was not only the highlight of the Birmingham Shout! film festivals, but also one of the best films of 2006. In a few months, when I look back to compile my list, it could very well end up topping it. Check this one out if you can, and then go out of your way to purchase it on DVD when it hits stores. This is filmmaking at its finest -- the kind that sparks an emotion or two.

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