“Land of Storms” Explores Gay Life in Germany

 

Szabolcs (nicknamed Szabi) and his teenage German teammates do everything together.  They get matching tattoos and even ‘relieve’ themselves in unison when they are watching straight porn on the TV. However the camaraderie is quickly strained when they get thrashed in an important football match, and Szabi their captain is blamed for the loss. A fight breaks out during their post-game shower between Szabi and his best friend Bernard, which results in a hasty retreat early next morning with an angry Szabi sulking back to his native Hungary.
Instead of heading home and having to face his disappointed father who has all but coerced him into becoming a professional football player, Szabi instead makes tracks to the dilapidated farmhouse in a remote corner of the country that he has inherited from his grandfather.
He is woken up one night by the sound of his motorbike that is about to be stolen by Aron a local village lad. When Szabi sets off in hot pursuit and captures him, the embarrassed young man stays on to help repair the roof as a way of apologizing. These two lonely young men very quickly become firm friends, and when they end up drinking a little too much schnapps one night, Szabi takes advantage of the situation and of his new friend too, by attempting to take their relationship up a level or two. It’s clear that although Aron is enjoying being aroused by his friend, he is also confused and ashamed by the feelings he is experiencing and so later on in a moment of panic he confesses all to his needy religious mother.
As Aron has a sometimes girlfriend he escapes the beating that the local homophobic youths inflict on Szabi when word gets out that the two are more than platonic friends. Whilst Aron now keeps a wide berth of the farmhouse, Bernard turns up from Germany and professes that he has always had a secret crush on his best friend. As Szabi is now coming to terms with his sexuality he is more than happy to embrace this news and Bernard too.  When word gets around the village about Szabi’s new houseguest, a very jealous and somewhat chastened Aron quickly reappears and soon the three young men become a romantic idyllic triangle. It is doomed to failure however as it is inevitable that these three un-worldly innocents will be unable to deal with either their own feelings of jealousy, or the external forces that they quickly encounter.
The beauty of this very tender movie of gay self-discovery from Hungarian filmmaker Ádám Császi is the very sensual and somewhat sad way that rather unsentimentally deals with these boy’s experiences in this rather harsh environment. Császi captures Szabi’s struggle not just with his sexuality but his whole desire for a simpler way of life rather than following the path his father has insisted of mapping out for him.
It is daringly sensuous and although this tender and touching tale is both erotically and emotional charged, for a refreshing change it avoids any temptation to develop into a cliché melodrama.  It is helped by the three very talented leads who give extremely compelling performances of young men finding their own way of dealing with who they really are, and also by the fact that they just happen to be hot as hell too.
It is unquestionably one of the very best new coming of age movies, and even more remarkable when you appreciate that it is also Császi’s debut feature too.