Being 17's great strength is the two utterly engrossing performances given by its leads and their exhilarating chemistry is conveyed with equal sensitivity during their tussles, as it is in every small glance and gesture.
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Téchiné intuitively favors movement over chatter, and he directs his young actors toward intimate, yearning performances.
The film’s hyper-naturalism is its raison d’etre, and Being 17 is at its best when it leans into that approach.
An ultra-naturalistic slice of rocky adolescent life that combines violence and sensuality, wrenching loss and tender discovery.
André Téchiné does justice to the closeness between repulsion and desire, difference and sameness, heterosexuality and homosexuality.
This isn’t a film that makes a big deal of its contemporary authenticity; it wears its carefully measured elements lightly, the better to shine a light on its intriguing characters.
Téchiné has made one of his simplest and most elemental films, which is both Being 17’s most arresting feature and its weakness.
Co-scripted by Céline Sciamma, director of Water Lilies and Girlhood, Being 17 manifestly benefits from her insight into the problems of young people searching for their social and sexual identities; this, combined with Téchiné’s controlled vision and superb direction of actors, makes the new film a quietly potent proposition.
This vibrant portrait feels like something of a revelation, which is remarkable, really, considering how many more films have tackled coming-of-age than the relatively niche experience of coming out.
The movie is not really about deciding whether you’re gay or straight — those terms are never spoken. It’s about the chemistry of two people at a moment in time.