Saturday, March 28, 2015

Flare: Of Girls and Horses

Of Girls and Horses
As I said, I have seen few films at the festival, but I am quite glad I saw this one on the big screen, because it is a visual delight and deserves to have its sweeping shots seen in their full glory. An unexpectedly sweet film from the formidable Monika Treut, Of Girls and Horses is a coming of age tale involving two girls on a horse farm in northern Germany. While that may not scream must-see, it turned out to be both visually and emotionally engaging.

My companions and I talked over the film afterward, admitting we had expected disaster to strike, given the set-up of troubled Alex arriving in the middle of nowhere, attempting to kiss her supervisor Nina and then stealing Nina's pills. But, these transgressions did not end in disaster or melodrama, merely serving as bumps in the road of Alex's growing up. When posh girl Kathy arrives with her horse Carmina, again one might anticipate jealous Alex to take some kind of revenge on the girl or her horse, but she merely befriends both.

"There's no conflict," said B, and we agreed our expectations were not met, but in a good and surprising way. Intererestingly, in the accompanying notes, a reviewer notes that "the conflict of Of Girls and Horses is purely emotional". I might have reworded that as "the conflict is internal". It's not a drama played out between people, so much as what is happening in Alex, Kathy and also Nina, who is torn between her spiritually enriching life on the farm and her girlfriend in the metropolis of Hamburg.

And the horses look amazing. Such impressive creatures, rendered as curious but mute characters by Treut and her DOP. Whether turning to regard the camera with suspicion or galloping across the shore, the horses in the film command respect and affection. Not so different from human beings then.

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