Parties, drugs, and hedonism are the ruling principles of Yung’s four female protagonists. Director Henning Gronkowski uses his film to dive into the underbelly of Berlin’s youth culture, drawing from his personal experiences.
The teenage leads, all of them close to graduating high school, are more interested in partying than studying. They are aimless, drifting through life without any goals, making their money with casual prostitution and dealing drugs. Life after 30? Hard to imagine.
Vivid party scenes full of neon light and trance-like music are one of the film’s few impressive features. Interviews in faux-documentary style undercut the main narrative in a failed effort to add substance. The girls, as well as Joy’s cousin Tyrell, face the camera and speak of their past and present. While these scenes are meant to offer a closer look at the thoughts and emotions of the five, they end up feeling more superfluous than anything. In another attempt to blur the boundaries between fiction and documentary, each character shares their actor’s name.
Gronkowski succeeds in bringing to the screen a thoroughly unique viewing experience. He clearly aims to shock with quasi-explicit sex scenes, both as business transactions and with rare hints of infatuation. But is Adam Ginsberg’s camera truly as exploitative as it seems, lingering on the girls’ bodies, or are they so used to presenting themselves to the male gaze that they themselves hold the power? The film does not go so far as to answer that question, unwilling to take a position on any of the issues it raises.
It seems Yung’s teenage characters exist in a bubble where actions don’t have consequences. But, regardless of its stylistic merits, the film’s deliberately blasé attitude, mirrored in its protagonists, ultimately begs the question: if they don’t care, why should we?
CAST: Janaina Liesenfeld, Emily Lau, Joy Grant, Abbie Dutton
DIRECTOR: Henning Gronkowski
WRITERS: Henning Gronkowski
SYNOPSIS: This film follows four young girls into the vibrant, hedonistic subculture of Berlin.