›› Light Gradient - Rückenwind
a film by Jan Krüger.
2009 | 73 mins | Germany.
principal players: Sebastian Schlecht / Johann, Eric Golub / Robin, Iris Minich / Grit and Denis Alevi as Henri.
Official Synopsis: "A young gay couple go on a camping trip, biking through the woods of Brandenburg. They have some mishaps along the way, before meeting a woman and her teenage son on a farm."
Random in style is this puzzling film from writer and director Jan Krüger of Freunde - The Whiz Kids fame. Told in flashback, note the pivotal solitary opening sequence, it tells the story of lovers Johann and Robin whose biking trip into the lush German countryside takes a turn for the worse when things go missing in the night. Devoid of AWOL tent posts and bikes that mysteriously went walkabout in the woods, the two take shelter at a rundown farm, whose sole occupants happen to be Grit and her bored, if sexually curious son Henri. Striking up a friendship with the pair, they soon are seemingly part of the family, only for Henri to become close, perhaps too close to one of the boys.
Three's a crowd, in Light Gradient.
In short, here we find Krüger rejoice in painting a picture of boys in love, only with his brush dipped firmly in the pot of surrealism, as we come to witness the two young men engage in a series of bizarre S&M styled hide-and-seek games, with the loser tied up hands and feet fashion, at the sexual mercy of the victor. It's a theme that dominates this work, that of the act of entrapment; from Robin becoming trapped in a locked barn, to the chilling end game itself.
Yet this is also a film filled with many a moment that wonderfully captures the playful camaraderie between the boys; whether it be skinny-dipping in a lake, to a fishing trip with Henri that would not be out of place in Marco Kreuzpaintner's joyous coming out feature Summer Storm, the bond between our pair of star-crossed lovers is ever present, thanks to the beautifully natural performances from leads Sebastian Schlecht and Eric Golub, boys who are not shy when it comes to man-on-man lip-service, wandering hands, nor full frontal nudity for that matter, even if the sole sex scene to be had is heard, rather than seen. Yet for all of the pros of this work, including the unhurried picture postcard cinematography by Bernadette Paassen, that of a cinematic colouring book showcasing the vibrant shades and idyllic scenic delights of summer, the final act is somewhat bewildering and then some.
True, the sense of unease is more in the background than to the fore and yes, the end result could be too slow, let alone perplexing for some. Yet it's obvious that you were meant to think - just what is going on? Only the clues are few in number, making for an intriguing, if frustrating game of cat and mouse; or rather and cue the bookended narrative, the fox and the hare. Then again, you're never quite sure which of the boys is the fox and the other, the hare? Or could both be the same? Confused; you will be.
Gay Visibility - overt.
Nudity - the full monty.
Overall - file under ... 3 stars.