Paula (Elisabeth Wabitsch) is in love with her classmate Charlotte (Anaelle Dézsy). But Charlotte has a boyfriend, Michael (Leo Plankensteiner). So Paula starts dating the nerdy Tim (Alexander Wychodil) instead, but Tim actually likes her. And then there’s also Lilli (Alexandra Schmidt) who knows how to handle boys and loves to get under Paula’s skin.
I really enjoyed Siebzehn. Not only was it shot where I live and features a bisexual protagonist, it’s simply a strong coming-of-age film with a pretty cool soundtrack. That’s how Austrian cinema should be.
Queer protagonists are pretty rare in Austrian films (usually when you get them, they’re gay, middle-class men), so that alone was already amazing. Additionally, Siebzehn is not a film that explores Paula’s sexuality. She doesn’t doubt herself or her love for Charlotte, it’s not a coming out story. Rather the film explores her relationships and generally how difficult it is to navigate sex and love, especially when you’re young. And while there may be a certain extra vulnerability for queer people due to homomisia, it’s otherwise not that different from straight people trying to figure it out.
Art tells her story with a calmness and self-assuredness that is quite astounding for a first feature film. She also found a great and very promising actress in Elisabeth Wabitsch who is equally (in-)experienced, making their collaboration even more astounding. (Speaking of the cast, it was nice to see Schärf in a different role from the ones he usually plays.)
The cinematography and lighting was also really nice – I’ve rarely seen a film that captures the feeling of the last days before the summer vacation with such clear images. I could practically feel the sun on my skin, it was so immediate. The entire thing is rounded off with a great soundtrack (even though it features Bilderbuch and Wanda, two bands I just really hate).
Towards the end the film became a little dramatic and I could have done with a slightly less open end (but only if it was a happy one). But it did feel right for the story anyway, so it wasn’t such a big deal.