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Film Review: “Being 17” (2016) ★★★★


In the Pyrenees mountains, two unlike young men find themselves in mutual hostility and enmity, but later become best friends. One is an excellent student in school, but hated by his classmate; another one is an adopted child whose jungle-type attitude does not seem to take him anywhere. But one day things will change. Their lives. The way they see the world… And it’s all because of a little spark of friendship that was inevitable…

Damien lives with his loving an caring mother Marianne Delille. His father is a pilot who is always on duty. Damien grew up seeing only love and care. Thomas is the opposite of Damien. He is rude, unethical with barbaric tendencies. However, the only time when he is kind and more himself is when Marianne, Damien’s mother looks after Thomas’ sick mother. When he gives a bandwagon to Damien in the classroom, he had no idea who his mother was. But when he finds out everything, although a bit slowly, but he changes forever…

Thomas has a bullying personality. A bit jealous of other’s success, and tries to lock himself in his own world. However, this young man does everything possible to help his adoptive mother, who for the first time in her life may successfully go through pregnancy. Damien is a brilliant man who avoids every single conflict, but after short time, he becomes a part of it because of Thomas.

As the story unfolds, you will find a bit strange the uneasy, conflictual attractiveness these young men have towards each other. When Thomas’ mother is sent to the hospital, Marianne offers Thomas to stay at her place until his mother gets better. The offer of course sounds too good, however, the desire to punch Damien’s face is what Thomas cared about. But when he moves in, he starts seeing life from a whole different perspective. He, for a moment, allows Damien to become his friend. In the school, he turns into an excellent student, and all because of Marianne and Damien until the day when Damien reveals his real intention and feelings he felt toward Thomas…

Being 17 co-written and directed by André Téchiné explores the friendship, motherhood, relationship in a way it was hard to tell in the beginning of the film. An unexpected turn-out happens after the first half an hour of Being 17 when you realize that Damien and Thomas have many things to learn from each other, such as avoiding hatred and to respect others. But there is another thing the two should benefit from their complicated relationship – is once and for all – be honest and open about each other, but not in away you could have anticipated.

In conclusion, Being 17 is another solid drama from Europe that will never stop to amaze me. It’s a film that quickly changes its direction from bullying to something more impactful. Through the violence it well explains its reasons and satisfaction that you as a viewer will appreciate. However, it’s a film that is not made for the North American viewer, unless you’re into European movies. Despite offering a happy ending, the movie goes far and beyond the meaning of friendship, that eventually helps its protagonist to benefit from. The movie itself had a clear path and pleasable direction it could go, but it choses the one, and luckily for us, the right one, which makes watching this movie an absolute pleasure.


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