Being 17 is a coming of age story that is handled sensitively and never becomes cloying.
Damien (Kacey Mottet-Klein) and Thomas (Coretin Fila) are classmates who hate each other at first sight. Their relationship initially consists of bullying and schoolyard fisticuffs. When Thomas’ foster mother becomes ill and it is discovered she is pregnant for the first time, Damien’s mother (Sandrine Kiberlain) invites the teen to join her family while Thomas’s mother recuperates. Damien is initially resistant, but over time his true motives are revealed. Confined to the same house, the boys’ emotional and sexual tensions reach a crisis as they are forced to question their sexuality and their relationship.
Being 17 hinges on the performances of these three actors and they all deliver well thought out and intense performances.
Coretin Fila (in real life considerably older that Kacey Mottet-Klein) transitions from an aloof student to a caring, loving partner. His acting possesses a stillness rarely seen in actors his age.
Kacey Mottet-Klein embodies the internal pain and anguish of a young man trying to come to terms with his emerging sexuality. His Damien is vulnerable and brave the same time. Two highlights for me were his coming out to his mother and to Thomas, the first being successful and the second frustrating.
Sandrine Kiberlain portrays Marianne with compassion – compassion for her son, for Thomas and for Thomas’ mother. Unfortunately, she is rewarded with her husband’s death which becomes a catalyst for the two boys to help her and face their true feelings for each other.
Being 17 is fortunate to have such a clever, well-written script. It involved me right from the start of the film and maintained my interest till the end. A really touching, emotionally satisfying film!
Reviewed by Barry Hill
Rating out of 10: 9