“Sommersturm” (the English translation is “Summer Storm”) is a German language film about teenagers attending a training camp for various crew clubs. One group is Catholic school girls, one is most likely lesbians, two groups are heterosexual, and one group, the Queerstrokes, are gay males. Two boys on the hetero team, Tobi (Robert Stadlober) and Achim (Kostja Ullmann), are best friends. Tobi, however, wants to take their relationship to the next level. He is falling in love with Achim, which causes all kind of personal havoc with himself and Achim, and a different set of problems with a very attractive girl, Anke (Alicja Bachleda-Curus), who likes him. When Tobi has a fight with Achim, he finds himself hanging out with the members of the Queerstrokes, and that’s when his life changes.
“Sommersturm” handles its subject matter with an unexpected maturity (even though the characters sometimes don’t). It doesn’t treat the issue of sexual identity with kid gloves, and it doesn’t fall into easy stereotypes, either. (Though stereotypes do come into play, but only at the hands of the characters.) In other words, it’s probably one of the most realistic portrayals of sexual orientation issues ever seen in a teen film. Granted, the end might be a little too storybook, but it fits the context of the picture, and with society becoming more accepting of homosexual lifestyles, it doesn’t seem that far off course.
While the film doesn’t strictly deal with homosexual identity (heterosexual relationships are examined, as well), that is its focus. While that may put off some viewers, the reality is that the story is key here — not the lifestyle. At its heart, the film is touching for all the right reasons and honest. It’s also daring, romantic and heartbreaking — all the things a movie of this ilk should be.