Though the premise suggests a typical raunchy teen comedy or a vintage gay-porn loop promising young German writer-director Marco Kreuzpaintner's unassuming effort is in fact an observant and sensitively played drama about adolescent sexuality, unrequited love and heartbreak. Both Tobi (Robert Stadlober), the star and coxswain of the Bavarian Starnberg Rowing Club's boys' team, and his best friend Achim (Kostia Ullmann) are looking forward to a week in the country at a summer rowing camp, and both hope to win the first-place Amateur Rowing Championship trophy, for which they'll be competing against a rival Prussian team. But while Achim can't wait to see Sandra (Miriam Morgenstern), the pretty rower from the Bavarian girls' team, Tobi only wants to spend time with Achim, whom he loves as more than a friend. Even though he pretends to like Sandra's teammate Anke (Alicja Bachleda-Curus), going so far as to tell Achim that he and Anke went all the way, Tobi is gay, though neither Achim nor even Tobi himself is fully aware of that fact. Tobi's hope that his friendship with Achim will develop into something more physical are dashed once the various teams from around Germany set up camp on a beautiful stretch of river and it becomes clear that Achim is far more interested in fooling around with Sandra than with Tobi. Heartsick when Achim offhandedly tells him that he could never reciprocate the romantic feelings of another boy, Tobi makes a clumsy attempt to seduce an increasingly confused Anke, who was starting to think Tobi wasn't interested in her after all. Tobi then begins sneaking over to the camp of the "Queerstrokes," a rowing team made up entirely of young gay men who might turn out to be the Bavarian team's stiffest competition. Allowing himself to experiment with another man, Tobi starts to explore the possibility that he's really gay, but the realization only makes his desire for Achim and Tobi's resentment towards Sandra so intense it explodes in a storm that threatens to destroy their friendship. There are a number of places where this small, sweet and often very funny film could have gone awry, but it's never prurient or condescending to its gay characters — a remarkably diverse group of guys with different ideas about what it means to be gay. For their part, the young women are not only pretty but smart a refreshing change from the typical Hollywood portrayal of teenage girls.
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- Released: 2004
- Rating: R
- Review: Though the premise suggests a typical raunchy teen comedy or a vintage gay-porn loop promising young German writer-director Marco Kreuzpaintner's unassuming effort is in fact an observant and sensitively played drama about adolescent sexualit… (more)