Seventeen

Made with empathy for its subject, "Seventeen" eventually gels into a docu about a rebellious, Rouen-based mechanic. Veteran documaker Didier Nion sounds like an all-in-one shrink, big brother and guidance counselor, though film later edges more into the participant-observer tradition. Slow passages recording protag's daily activities, and film's approach in the opening 30 minutes, will dampen theatrical prospects.

With:
With: Jean-Benoit Durand, Helena Paris.

Made with palpable (and perhaps too much) empathy for its subject, “Seventeen” eventually gels into a moving and candid documentary about a rebellious, Rouen-based mechanic. Veteran documaker and part-time d.p. Didier Nion (“Voyages, voyages”) initially sounds, from his off-camera position, like an all-in-one shrink, big brother and guidance counselor, though film later edges more into the participant-observer tradition. However, long, slow passages unobtrusively recording protag’s daily activities, and film’s over-oblique approach in the opening 30 minutes, will dampen theatrical prospects.

Jean-Benoit Durand is a bright but disruptive kid. Bulk of pic follows him in his 17th year, as he struggles to keep a job as an apprentice at a local garage, where his lack of concentration and defiance of authority rub his boss and co-workers the wrong way. Gradually, as Durand opens up more to Nion, it transpires just how damaging his background has been. Jean-Benoit’s g.f., Helena, a quiet but doggedly loyal girl his own age, gives him the love his own family can’t: Passages showing the two young lovers have a more poetic quality. Overall look is gritty and hand-held.

Seventeen

France

Production: A Mille et Une Films, Arte France production. (International sales: Mille et Une Films, Rennes.) Produced by Filles Padovani. Co-producer, Thierry Garrel. Directed, written by Didier Nion.

Crew: Camera (color), Nion; editor, Catherine Zins. Reviewed at Karlovy Vary Film Festival (competing), July 3, 2004. (Also in Chicago Documentary Festival.) Running time: 82 MIN.

With: With: Jean-Benoit Durand, Helena Paris.

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