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BREAKING THE SURFACE
2006


March 8, 2008
San Jose Cinequest Film Festival 18
Germany
German
96 Minutes
Drama
Felicitas Korn

I've been attending Cinequest since 1998. I've seen more than 170 films in that time and this one has, hands down, the most on screen sex of any of them. Does that make it good or bad? I can't rightly decide. I just saw a fellow film buff who asked, "besides that, was it good?" My response was, "I can't get past it yet."

The story is about a 20ish photography student who is beginning to get her work published. She favors outcast girls and is developing a series of photos about skatergirls in her neighborhood. Nadja spends her days shooting pictures, rarely goes to her classes, and spends her nights at incredibly loud techno clubs where she sweats, dances, flirts, and occasionally hooks up with people. She meets Darius "two minutes past his 20th birthday" and is immediately attracted to his messy hair and semi-shy demeanor. They begin their relationship slower than she'd like, but it soon builds to one of those passionate affairs that seem perfectly reasonable if you're 20 and have few responsibilities. The relationship is honest and out there for the world (and the audience) to see.

Does love like this ever last? They have sex on the grass during a nighttime downpour, sex in the shower, on her photography equipment, in a pool, in a public restroom stall, etc. Cinematic sex which looks hot, but is probably better in theory than in practice (how will she get the grass and mud out of her hair?) The viewer isn't shown explicit sex without also getting explicit blood and vomit either. All the body fluids are represented. The camera does not blink while watching Nadja--whether masturbating with the showerhead or vomiting.

The film's sense of style and music is pretty good. The offices of the photo magazine are sufficiently trendy and youthful. The music in the club is played at deafening volume--it's no wonder that looks are so important while dancing, it's impossible to hear a conversation. Nadja looks incredibly happy while dancing and while having sex and even while shooting photos.

The naturalness of the two attractive leads' bodies are fun to watch, but is the film saying anything deeper? We get sex scene after sex scene to prove that these two care about each other? I will say that the sex scenes were acted very well. Much like LUST, CAUTION, there is acting going on here. Watch as the boy keeps his eyes open to see what the girl is doing with her eyes closed. The boy is nervous, the girl pretends to be tough, but is really just as fragile as we all are.

I truly don't know what to make of this one.

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