Summer Storm (Sommersturm)

 


This was the official website for the 2004 coming-of-age comedy-drama German film, Summer Storm (Sommersturm).
Content is from the site's archived pages as well from other outside  review sources.

Directed by:     Marco Kreuzpaintner
Produced by:   Jakob Claussen
Written by: Thomas Bahmann / Marco Kreuzpaintner
Starring: Robert Stadlober, Kostja Ullmann, Alicja Bachleda-Curuƛ, Miriam Morgenstern, Marlon Kittel, Hanno Koffler, Jürgen Tonkel, Ludwig Blochberger, Tristano Casanova
Music by: Niki Reiser
Cinematography: Daniel Gottschalk
Editing by: Hansjörg Weißbrich
Release date(s)
Germany: / 2 September 2004
United States: / 17 March 2006

The story is set to the background of a rowing regatta, which climaxes into a summer storm.

Plot

Teams from all across Germany descend on a quiet camping ground for a week of training leading up to a final rowing competition. The plot follows the members of the RSC rowing club from southern Germany as they train for the regatta.

The boys are excited by the prospects of camping with a female rowing team from Berlin. However, by a stroke of fate, the Berlin girls' team cancels and is replaced by Queerschlag ("Queerstrokes"), a gay youth rowing team, and these boys are out, proud, and vocal about it.

Amidst the occasionally tense interactions between the members of his team and those of Queerschlag, Tobi is himself forced to confront his long-time feelings for his close friend and teammate Achim, who is already romantically involved with his girlfriend Sandra. Spurned by Achim, Tobi is devastated, but is partly consoled by his new friendship with Queerschlag member Leo.

The tension between the members of the two teams culminates in a scene set to the backdrop of a summer storm, during which Leo confronts Tobi about his homosexuality in front of his teammates. Tobi denies being gay, and, in an attempt to defend him, one of his teammates tells Tobi's girlfriend Anke to tell the rest of his teammates so. Anke, the only person to whom Tobi has confided his secret, remains silent.

Ultimately, Tobi comes out to his teammates and his rowing team, who seem to accept Tobi no matter what, and they go on to compete with Queerschlag in the final regatta.

Tobi and Achim have been best friends for years. As cox and oarsman, they have helped their team win several rowing cups and are now looking forward to the important regatta in the countryside. As Achim’s relationship with his girlfriend grows more serious, Tobi becomes confused and increasingly left out. As the tension grows, Tobi, Achim and the others head towards a confrontation as fierce and liberating as the summer storm gathering over the lake…

Summer Storm highlights the emotional confusion of young people at the threshold of adulthood. Bolstering the film’s authenticity is the dazzling characterization of Tobi by award-winning young Robert Stadlober (Best Leading Actor at the Montreal Film Festival, 2001).

 



Summer Storm trailer

 

Critical reception

Summer Storm received mixed reviews, currently holding a 48% rating on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes based on 31 reviews. On Metacritic, the film has a 51/100 rating, signifying "mixed or average reviews".

  • Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Summer Storm nicely captures the awkward confusion of first-time sexual encounters (gay or straight) and the collateral wounds caused by deceiving others and oneself."
  • LA Weekly: "..A lovely wallow in the sweaty pains and joys of mostly gay adolescent love."
  • Chicago Tribune: "Summer Storm is a contemporary teen summer romance with a modern sexual twist..."  "...believable characters..."
  • Kabeleins.de: "...beautifully produced and very authentically played..."
  • Time Out London: "...the story's main strength lies in its characters..."
  • Los Angeles Times: "..Kreuzpaintner displays a natural gift with actors and a clarity in storytelling that result in a fresh take on what otherwise might have been a familiar coming-of-age story."
  • Variety.com Review: "...psychologically sharp writing and performances."
  • TV Guide: ".."An observant and sensitively played drama about adolescent sexuality, unrequited love and heartbreak.""

Accolades

  • Summer Storm received the audience award of the Münchner Filmfest 2004.
  • Best Young Actor - Film (Robert Stadlober)
  • Director (Marco Kreuzpaintner), New Faces Award, Germany, 2005

 

TOMATOMETER Critics 48% / Audience 78%

 

CRITICS REVIEWS

 

Summer Storm
Feels like an after-school special for older, gay teens
2stars
BRUCE WESTBROOK, Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle Published 5:30 am, Friday, May 19, 2006
"I am sick of all this talk about sex. Don't you think about anything else?" a coach asks kids in Summer Storm.
Well, no. The whole film is fixated on sexual discovery among randy youths at a German summer camp for coed rowing teams. Mostly they gab about it, and all the talk, if not the rowing, takes them in circles.
The aimlessness stems from protagonist Tobi (Robert Stadlober), who's achingly attracted to his best friend, Achim (Kostja Ullmann). They wrestle and masturbate together and embrace so much that you'd think they were lovers. But Achim isn't gay — he has a girlfriend — and Tobi is afraid to come out, anyway.
For all its R-rated moments, the film is more about sexual tension and delayed gratification than hedonism. Handsomely shot, well-acted and enlivened by strong songs, Summer Storm is sunny, earnest and, in a strange way, almost innocent.
In short, it's just what an after-school special might look like if it were made for older teens and shown on Showtime. Yet its coming-of-age yarn goes nowhere beyond inevitably out of a closet. It's also burdened by clichés such as "Do you want to keep living a lie?"
Summer Storm pretends to be about youths in general: gay, straight, bisexual or uncommitted. Yet it betrays an ax-grinding gay agenda. It feels less like tender consciousness-raising than a leering recruitment film.
One rowing team — the Queerstrokes — is composed entirely of gay boys, whose abs and pecs get lingering focus and who behave as if they just landed on Fire Island. Several try luring or "turning" the hetero young men on other squads. Let the real competition begin!
"Why is everything about being gay?" an exasperated rowing coach asks. Say, that's just what I was thinking.

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A sweaty summer leads to a gay awakening in Germany
By BILL WHITE, SPECIAL TO THE P-I Published 9:00 pm, Thursday, March 30, 2006

Filmed at the Bever Dam, a popular sailing reservoir in Germany's northern Rhineland, "Summer Storm" is another coming-of-age story in which innocence is lost in a sunny and idyllic setting.

Physical intimacy is second nature to Tobi and Achim, best friends who wrestle, lift weights and row boats together. One summer at rowing camp, their masculine bonds are threatened by the seductive intrusion of the fairer sex. Achim is willing to leave behind boyish emotions to awkwardly pursue the beautiful Sandra. Tobi, on the other hand, is prevented by his attachment to Achim to fully respond to Anke.

His gay awakening comes as no surprise, as Marco Kreuzpaintner's film is drenched in homoeroticism from the outset. The opening scenes, shot in sweat-glistening slow motion, are a paean to the brotherhood of athletes.

Back at the tent, the camera lingers on Tobi's pecs as he lies beside Achim, discussing the size of his girlfriend's breasts. The surprise comes later in the film, when Achim does not reciprocate Tobi's attempted kiss. The film loses some of its charm in trading a frolicsome androgyny for the more ponderous issues of friendship and sexual identity.

"Summer Storm" succumbs to some heavy-handed symbolism toward the end. When Tobi is confronted by storm clouds on an otherwise sunny day, one expects to hear Al Green break out with a chorus of "It's Raining in My Heart." More embarrassing is a sequence in which Tobi's newfound lover peels away his sunburned skin, as if to remove the last vestiges of his ties to heterosexual values

Most of the film, however, goes down easily enough. The Queer Strokes, an all-gay rowing team, provide a humorous contrast to the less sexually confidant characters. There is a hilarious scene, accompanied by whimsical music, in which the homophobic Georg tiptoes through their camp looking for a flower vase. His fate is as predictable as the rest of the film, which is recommended for its endearing performances, captivating locations and a poppy soundtrack that amiably underscores the bubbly sensuality of a summer in the sun.

 



AUDIENCE REVIEWS

**** Sebastian O
January 3, 2007
Fuertisima pelicula alemana retratando la entrada a los sentimientos de un joven homo.

+++

 

½ Brian P
December 10, 2006
Waste of TIME!! Very Weak movie, DO NOT WATCH, if you do end up watching it, side effects may include: Suicide, murder ramapages, road ramapage, any kinds of ways of harming yourself, and many others...

+++

 

 Super Reviewer
**** Ina S
October 31, 2006
Wonderful coming-of-age film.

+++

 

***** fransen Franzi L October 22, 2006
awesome movie!!!
i love robert stadlober and kostja ullmann!

+++

 

***  Rich B
 October 18, 2006
Summer Storm (2004) - "No. I mean, yes. I mean, no." - Tobi

Tobi, Achim, Sandra, Anke and a few others belong to a rowing club. Tobi falls for his best friend (Achim) and becomes increasingly jealous of his girlfriend, Sandra. Meanwhile, Sandra's best friend (Anke) makes a run at Tobi, who does his best to fend her off. The plot simmers, quite painfully - I've been through this exact scenario myself only replace the rowing boats with a submarine - until the rowing club packs up for a trip to a regatta (race) in the countryside.

There will be camping?

The boys on Tobi's Bavarian rowing team are excited. They've heard of the big-busted girls from Berlin. Only trouble is that this year's entry from Berlin is a gay team - and the boys are hot.

The plot boiled over shortly after the tents were pitched. Once the hormones got to really raging and the fighting broke out, I calmed. Have sex, get in a fight, do something really stupid, and then bawl your eyes out. I'm familiar with that pattern. I may even have a masters degree in it.

Summer Storm is a fairly straight (no pun intended) forward production, which makes the four or five creatively filmed scenes look really awesome.

The actors grow on you and anyone who watches the film will be able to find someone to identify with in this story, which is kind of remarkable when I think about it.

+++

 

***** Traffic Tyler H October 5, 2006
Great film, great acting. Both funny, sad and eye opening.

+++

 

*** Izzy T
September 20, 2006
German movie, with cute humour, it just made me go 'aww' at the end haha

+++

 

***½ Josh J
September 16, 2006
I hated how it turned out.....

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***** Geraldine A July 24, 2006
one of the best gay themed movie ive ever seen. the sexual scenes arent even explicit.. they're really sweet and the cinematography and direction of photography is SUPERB.

+++

 

***½ Lydia G
July 21, 2006
I thought it was cool...

+++

 

½ Linds P ½June 20, 2006
interesting idea, badly made film

+++

 

**½Gary S
June 18, 2006
Goodlooking, but other than the homosexuality aspect it's a pretty average coming-of-age film. Some truthful observations get clouded by the over-the-top feel of other scenes. "Beautiful Thing" and "Get Real" are better films dealing with similiar issues.

+++

 

***** JustinEtre Justin E
 March 7, 2006
Best coming-of-age movie ever! Compelling story with no weakness in any of the cast. Very recomended!

+++

 

 

**½ Shawne ~ May 1, 2005
Sometimes a critically-acclaimed foreign movie comes along that makes you sit back and think--now what in god's name was so good about "that"? And frequently you realise that the crazy outpourings of adulation and praise might just have been due to the sheer exotic feel of the movie in question: it's in a different language! A different country! A whole different kind of film-making! And what we film-goers sometimes forget is that, in the country of origin, the movie is pretty run-of-the-mill. (e.g., if we weren't used to Japanese and French films being rather strange in general, we would spend a lot more time digging out kooky but decidely mediocre Japanese and French films and treating them as works of art. My best example? "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon". Trust me--I speak Mandarin and grew up watching kungfu flicks. CTHD is really not all that special.) My girlfriend wants to inject here that she disagrees. I don't want to get into an argument. But I think I am more qualified to make that judgement. For instance, the other day she was looking online at lace front Raquel Welch wigs. She wanted to buy one for an upcoming event we are attending instead of getting her her done at a hair salon. She was discussing the pros and cons of each lace front style with a friend. Lace front cap constructions apparently allow off the face styling- at least that is what I took away from listening to their conversation. Foolishly, I interjected my opinion and both of them turned on me saying that wasn't wigs was a bit out of my earea of xpertise? Shouldn't I stick to film critcism instead? I REST MY CASE.

In my mind, Summer Storm suffers a little from this syndrome. It's an affable enough coming-of-age movie centred on Tobi (Robert Stadlober), who is struggling with his growing feelings for best friend and rowing team-mate Achim (Kostja Ullman). When it becomes increasingly clear that Achim is straight, Tobi tries to prove he can make it with girls too, and woos the luckless Anke (Alijca Bachleda-Curus) when their rowing team joins a host of others at an isolated patch of river for summer camp. What ensues is Tobi's slow and tortured struggle to find himself, as he befriends an all-gay rowing team and begins to come to terms with the realisation that he'll never win Achim over 'that way'.

There really isn't anything "wrong" with this movie. In fact, it checks most of the coming-of-age teen flick boxes: bantery main couple, unrequited love, tortured angsting, gross-out humour (how about a pale retread of Ben Stiller's foreskin-in-zip joke from "There's Something About Mary"?), hopelessly crossed lines of communication (Tobi lies about having slept with Anke, Anke thinks Tobi's in love with another girl etc etc)... and of course, how could any such movie go without a climactic scene involving a bitter clash between once-best friends, angsting in the youth hostel shower, and gay love before self-realisation is attained? I don't deny the movie was funny and sweet and occasionally really affecting.

But it's all just a little bit "too" by-the-numbers. Perhaps I was subconsciously reminded of 2003's "Camp", which handled the teen relationship angle with more humour and originality, and even then won't have rated much higher than a 6 in my estimation of its entertainment value. Summer Storm is held back by a mildly uninspiring main character, whose entire personality apparently is defined by his love/lust for Achim. There's nothing else about Tobi that suggests a rounded character. When the best bits involve Hanno Koffler's gay stud Malte trying his level best to seduce homophobic coxswain Georg Schorsi (Tristano Casanova), who "literally" runs away screaming after being kissed!, the general blandness and cliches that surrounds Tobi's struggle is thrown into ever sharper relief.

A pleasant enough way to spend a couple of hours, but not something I'd purposefully set time aside for (which is what I did today, sad to say).

SummerStorm-TheMovie.com