Review: ‘Teenage Response’

Thirteen German teenagers talk about their sex lives, drugs and all sorts of other stuff that has affected them physically in German helmer Eleni Ampelakiotou's super-stylized docu "Teenage Response."

Thirteen German teenagers talk about their sex lives, drugs and all sorts of other stuff that has affected them physically in German helmer Eleni Ampelakiotou’s super-stylized docu “Teenage Response.” While what the kids say is often interesting and disarmingly frank, the pic really raises the bar with its arresting, avant-garde use of disjointed editing, distorted lensing, sets, props, dance and music. Nevertheless, nothing onscreen really justifies the punishingly long 150-minute running time, especially as there’s no overarching narrative or obvious thematic unity to carry auds along. “Response” won’t hear many calls from programmers beyond the German fest circuit.

Teens interviewed appear to hail mainly from deprived backgrounds. At least one was beaten as a child; several have found solace in drugs or sexual adventures. Per the pic’s press notes, the helmer is interested in exploring how these kids relate to their own bodies, but without knowing that, it all seems slightly pointless, although the visuals are splendid. Paint dripping down walls, slow racks in and out of focus, and various visual effects provide eye candy, but this would be better suited to gallery spaces than to cinemas.

Teenage Response

Germany

Production

A Now Films, Morlock & Ampelakiotou production, in association with ZDF, 3 Sat, with support of Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg. (International sales: Now Films, Berlin.) Produced by Bettina Morlock, Eleni Ampelakiotou, Alexandra Winklhofer. Directed, edited by Eleni Ampelakiotou.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Siri Klug; music, Wilhelm Stegmeier; production designer, Jil Bertermann. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Generation 14plus), Feb. 8, 2009.  Running time: 150 MIN.

With

Anne, Bardia, Alexander, Miriam, Anton, Luisa, Jean, Sookee, Dieter, Mario, Sven, Luisa, Marc.
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