Let's cut to the chase - I highly recommend the German film At Eye Level (Auf Augenhöhe) and it's only got one more screening at this year's TIFF Kids; tomorrow (Sunday April 9, 2017) at 3:30 pm.
Suggested for ages 11-13 by TIFF Kids programmers, it's unfortunate that the marketers who put together the trailer and chose the visual look for its title screen seem to be trying to sell it as some kind of wacky family comedy:
There's humour in it, certainly, but this is a lovely relationship film - not just in terms of the blossoming father and son relationship, but in the way it presents friendship as well. Mostly male friendships, which range from being strained within the confines of a group home for children to being thoughtful and compassionate, though still far from perfect, in the adult world. One of the most beautifully understated arcs is how young Michi (Luis Vorbach) changes how he relates to other kids, including his former roommate Justin (Marco Licht), the more time he spends with Tom (Jordan Prentice). This is one of the most genuine-feeling coming of age films I think I've seen, where the changes in the main character are believable, and gradual, and represent the sum total of what he experiences through the course of the film, rather than a single, sudden moment of revelation at the end.
The chance of coming across a movie like At Eye Level is exactly why I go to TIFF Kids every year. If it had been made in North America, it probably would have become exactly the kind of movie the trailer wants you to think it is, instead of the mature drama that it is.
The distraction of Jordan Prentice's English-spoken lines being dubbed into German notwithstanding, this is a wonderful film with an amazing script, great direction, and spot-on performances. It's a little early to say, but I won't be at all surprised if this is one of the award winners at TIFF Kids 2017.
At Eye Level screens again at the TIFF Bell Lightbox on:
- Sunday April 9, 3:30 pm
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