Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

"A slow, mature film from first time director Mückstein, Talea showcases a rare talent in Epply."

It starts with a scenes by the swimming pool. Another girl asks Jasmin (Lili Epply) if she's in the team. No, Jasmin says, and we wonder if it's because she doesn't fit in socially, though the other girl is kind. At home she is tormented by her foster sisters, perhaps because of her unfashionable looks, perhaps because of the weight of resentment she carries with her. but Jasmin's problems have deeper roots than bodily insecurity or social awkwardness. For most of her life, her mother has been in prison. Now that she's out, Jasmin is wondering how to repair the situation.

Inge (Eva-Maria Gintsberg), the mother, is also wondering. Jasmin was a young child when she went inside; now she's wondering how she should connect with a teenager she doesn't know, or even if it's wise to do so. Although she has work and support from the parole system, it's clear that she has a lot on her plate just adjusting to day to day life on the outside.

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It's Jasmin who takes the initiative, meeting her mother one day, producing money and whisking her off for a week in the country. There, in spite of their fears, a warm friendship begins to form. But Jasmin is dealing with a lot of confused emotions, and when somebody else takes an interest in her mother, her possessiveness is painful to see. She also has a secret she's been holding back. Their idyll cannot last.

A slow, mature film from first time director Mückstein, Talea showcases a rare talent in Epply, who communicates all the anxieties of youth without ever losing audience sympathy. Even at her most irritable and demonstrable, Jasmin is clearly struggling with a level of distress that's hard to fathom, and her quiet glances give us hints of just how much she is refraining from complaining about. Alongside her, Gintsberg is measured and just a little distant but still lets us see the complexity in Inge and her emotional battles over the idea of motherhood, the ease with which affection develops contrasting with the fear of losing her freedom again. Both characters are, in their different ways, approaching independence for the first time and trying to work out if there is a way for familial love to be a part of that.

Astutely paced and thoughtful, Talea is a film that will appeal to teenagers and adults alike but which most will shrink from with thought of watching together.

Reviewed on: 22 Jan 2014
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Jasmin wants to bond with her mother, Eva, recently released from prison, but Eva’s love life interferes.

Director: Katharina Mückstein

Writer: Selina Gnos, Katharina Mückstein

Starring: Lili Epply, Eva-Maria Gintsberg, Philipp Hochmair

Year: 2013

Runtime: 75 minutes

Country: Austria


Glasgow 2014

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