Eye For Film >> Movies >> Nena (2014) Film Review
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
16 may be considered sweet by adults but it's never an easy age to be. Nena (Abbey Hoes) handles it better than most. She has a confidence that probably stems from her experience of caring for her disabled father, but taking on adult responsibilities in one area doesn't mean knowing how to handle oneself in others - and there's a difference between taking on something others can help with and finding oneself the only person able to act when older people's moral courage fails them.
This is a film abut navigating that difficult middle ground. As Nena is embarking on her first sexual relationship she's still having to deal with bitchy girls at school. She covets knowledge and experience, discussing literature with her father, wearing a Ramones T-shirt or wrapping herself in a towel bearing the slogan 'I love Horst'. She's also faced with the discovery that her father is suicidal, and with the impossibility of putting up with other people's day to day bullshit when living with a problem on that scale.
Hoes is vibrant in the central role, making Nena a force to be reckoned with even when she's unsure where she's going. Her fierceness makes her teenage posturing a lot easier to deal with - she doesn't whine but says exactly what she thinks, whether working in the stables ("That's a crap pony") to playing on the baseball field (punching a provocative rival in the face). "There are some things that can't be condoned but are still deserved," her father reassures her. But it's one thing to say so. Nena needs to learn what many people never do - that she doesn't have to worry about anyone's expectations and can create her own narrative. In the process, she also has to learn to value other people's feelings as much as her own.
With day to day events filling up the bulk of the story and big decisions being made over time, this is a film that connects effectively with the intensity of teenage life lived in the moment. It never patronises its younger subjects but it doesn't require them to get everything right either. Life is messy. It doesn't always make sense to listen or to think about the consequences. Saskia Diesing's rapid fire photography captures the pace of Nena's quickly shifting world but isn't afraid to linger when the moment calls for it. The flat Danish countryside stretches out all around; the tallest things here are trees, two storey houses and human beings. It's not a place where one can hide from the world, or from oneself. Nena confronts the world head on.Reviewed on: 01 Feb 2016