Entertainment » Movies


by Roger Walker-Dack
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Oct 22, 2019

17-year-old Jakob (Simon Fr├╝hwirth) has just graduated high school. As it is the summer break, his single-parent father fixes him up with a temporary job at the abattoir he works at in town. The pair of them live in an isolated house in the country with Jacob's elderly grandfather, whom Jakob is expected to take care of. Jacob's relief from this slightly oppressive domesticity is his computer, which he uses to cruise the gay chat lines with the vague notion of finally losing his virginity. Such is the setting for Austrian filmmaker Gregor Schmidinger's drama "Nevrland."

It's online and in the late night hours that the closeted teenager finally feels alive. He suffers from uncontrollable anxiety attacks, one of which makes him collapse at the abattoir as he is taking a shower. A thorough examination at the hospital in Vienna reveals that there is nothing physically wrong with him; his problems are all psychological.

Jakob things the answers to his problems may lie with Kristjan (Paul Forman), a hunky 26-year-old who has pursued him online and now wants to meet up in person. After his grandfather dies, Jakob agrees to meet with Kristjan, who has more than a few issues of his own. The older boy persuades Jakob to take a hit of some strong hallucinatory drug, telling him that it will help him face his fears, but it doesn't quite work out as planned.

Schmidinger calls "Nevrland" - which is his feature filmmaking debut - a post-gay coming of age story. When Jakob embarks on his voyage of discovery, it is an opportunity to show the boy's vivid imagination via a very extended hallucinatory trip that we guess would seem even more remarkable if you actually took a hit before watching it.

It's an intense and multi-layered look at a youth who feels abandoned and almost dead inside as he deals with his sexuality. Schmidinger's movie may not resound with everyone, especially those who have long forgotten the difficulties of their own passages into manhood, but it will definitely strike a chord with all the many Jakobs in the world

Roger Walker-Dack, a passionate cinephile, is a freelance writer, critic and broadcaster and the author/editor of three blogs. He divides his time between Miami Beach and Provincetown.

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