Schwitzen [Sweat] (2014)

Director: Iris Blauensteiner
Writer: Iris Blauensteiner
Cast: Agnes Wilfinger, Michelle Lechner
Part of: identities Festival
Seen on: 4.6.2015
[Screener Review.]

Schwitzen will be shown as part of a short film program at the identities Festival in Vienna on June 14th, 2015, 20.00!

Summer is coming to an end. Having just finished the compulsory part of school, it’s a summer of waiting before the rest of their life starts for 15-year-old Marion (Agnes Wilfinger) and Elisa (Michelle Lechner). As they roam around the countryside surrounding their small village, boredom slowly gives way to aggression as they start to rail against things just being the way they are as much as things having to change.

Schwitzen conjures up a story of adolescents that one would rather expect with male protagonists – because that is a story we’ve seen many times already. But since they went for two female protagonists, it gets a new flavor – and a more interesting one at that.



Blauensteiner employs a lot of symbolism in her film that is at once very obvious – you know exactly when she’s being symbolic – but also opaque in what her symbols actually stand for – though I of course have my theory. That Marion and Elisa like to watch videos of snakes devouring small furry creatures is obviously meant to hint at something: but is it that the girls are the fluffy animals who are being swallowed and torn apart by life, or is it rather that the girls are finding their own power and becoming the snakes? Is it both?

In any case the film makes it clear that we live in a world where you have to position yourself: either you’re a fluffy victim, or you’re a voracious snake. The two girls experience victimhood in the beginning, before turning into snakes and even turning at each other sometimes – until they’re confronted with a grown man: suddenly they’re running away again, not quite as strong, vicious and adult as they thought.


Blauensteiner tells her story in crisp shots and colors – in a way that is often used in films to evoke vivid childhood memories where the world itself seemed so much clearer and simpler. It was only confusing because you didn’t know where in this simple world you belonged, and not because the world itself was complex. Despite having seen that style a few times already, it’s still effective and very nice to look at.

Wilfinger and Lechner also do a good job as Marion and Elisa. At times they are a little wooden, but they are still young, and working with a young director – it will be exciting to see what all three of them will bring to the cinematic table in the next years.

schwitzen2Summarizing: Definitely worth seeing.

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