- Director: Katharina Mückstein
- Writer: Katharina Mückstein
- Producer: Nikolaus Geyrhalter; Markus Glaser; Michael Kitzberger
Here's a film that demands patience...stick with and you shall be rewarded...with nothing but a stroke of [directorial] genius.
Getting to that moment is a bit of a hike. Wealthy teenage brats being...[horrendously] brattish! They drink, smoke, take drugs, moan, terrorise, zoom around on their motos and dance...to some pretty ear-assaulting music. Obviously, sexuality is a bit of an issue...especially for Mati. She's a nascent lesbian and not a very pleasant one to boot! Oooh the epitome of the [tedious] troubled [rich] teen. You would be hard-pressed to feel anything for her. She's one of the lads, behaves as brutish as one of those lads...and, to complicate things, one of those 'lads' is rather smitten by her!
Then, just when you least expect it, in comes a gay storyline...involving Mati's [closeted and deeply unhappy] father! So...the theme is pretty clear: Confusion! Throw in a bit of betrayal...and you are all set for a hard watch.
Now...this is when Katharina Mückstein's talent [seriously] kicks in. She has set-up most of the characters as being rather unsavoury...and then, twists and turns them into something more palatable...even to the point of extracting sympathy [perhaps, empathy too]. And then...there's the masterstroke...the characters melt, you melt and the film becomes something else entirely.
This is a film that will make you moan and groan...and, finally, gasp. Perfectly played by all...with all their vulnerabilities coming to the fore, like an incoming tide, relentlessly...it is a thing of hard-fought beauty.
In Austria the final school exam is known as the ‘Matura’. Unlike the German word ‘Abitur’ (from the Latin ‘abire’ meaning ‘to walk away’), the Austrian term also includes the notion of coming of age. Mati wants to become a veterinary doctor, like her mother, and therefore leave the confines of her small-town universe for Vienna. But is she ready for this future? Standing in her ‘Matura’ dress with her long hair scraped back into a tight bun and her neck hair shaved bare, she’d be the first to admit she looks like a clown. Mati loves to spend time with the boys bombing around the quarry on her motocross bike. When one of the girls from her school resists when one of Mati’s mates begins sexually harassing her at a disco, Mati spits in her face. But, just like her parent’s marriage, Mati’s motocross gang also ruptures once notions of friendship, love and sexuality become more pressing.
In her second feature-length drama, Katharina Mueckstein uses clear words and images and cool synthesiser beats to tell the story of an inscrutable young woman on the brink of ‘walking away’. Her parents’ silence tells us that being mature and facing up to the future doesn’t have anything to do with your age.