The Center of the World

milkboys Books, Films, Films & Cinema 6 Comments

When I was about 14 I carried a book with me everywhere for months because I just couldn’t let go of the protagonist. It must have been the first time that I really fell in love with a book. Welcome to The Center of the World… 

A coming of age story set in a remote mountain range in Germany; Author Andreas Steinhöfel weaves the elegant tale of a seventeen-year-old boy named Phil. Although the novel does deal with Phils sexuality, it primarily illustrates his tumultuous relationship with his unconventional mother, Glass, and reclusive twin sister, Dianne.

The family occupies a large estate, called Visible, on the outskirts of a socially repressive and ultra-conservative town. The town not only discriminates against Glass because of her promiscuous nature, but they transfer their criticisms to her two children. Therefore, throughout Phil’s childhood, he feels ostracised despite his mothers advice to ignore the harshness of the “Little People,” the people who inhabit the town.

Phil does discover refuge in the form of a young and vivacious girl named Kat who becomes his one and only ally. However, despite Phils seeming acceptance of his sexuality, he does not believe that his family or his friends would approve of his relationship with charming and attractive runner Nicholas who becomes his first boyfriend.

The novel is written in a first-person narrative with intermittent flashbacks that describe the roots of Phil’s personality. Steinhöfel’s greatest accomplishment is that he portrays homosexual relationships as the equivalent of heterosexual relationships. By demonstrating that the journey towards self-discovery of a young gay man is the same as that of a young straight man, Steinhöfel shows that discriminatory views on homosexuality are completely unfounded. In addition to vividly depicting Visible’s breath taking surroundings, his crisp and graceful prose provides insight into Phil’s complex thoughts and emotions.

Satisfying the reader with Phil’s self-discovery, the author does an excellent job of balancing the scales between satisfaction and misery, having and longing. By the end of the novel, one aches with a confused combination of happiness and grief. Steinhöfel and his novel deserve every word of praise.

English ISBN: 0440229324 | German ISBN 3551353158
English Version at Amazon | German Version at Amazon


A film based on the novel was released in 2016 in both German and English. I haven’t seen it yet and therefore can’t tell you if it does the book justice.  I have my doubts after watching the trailer which you can find below (and the actors being too old, as always, is only the most obvious of my many little complaints) but then again, I’m as biased as it gets so if the story sounds interesting to you at all, do give it a shot; or, if you already did, let us know in the comments how you liked it.

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Center of My World (Original Title: Die Mitte der Welt)
Release: 2016, Germany | IMDb | Facebook | Website

Kissing Drew

milkboys Films, Films & Cinema 21 Comments

Inside a drab middle school in 1992, a sexually-confused eighth-grader attempts to regain his dignity after being bullied by a sex-obsessed ‘cool kid’ whom he secretly fantasies about.

What do you do if you’re in love with your bully? While it might seem an odd idea, there are plenty of people out there who will know that love and hate can be close together. That’s the situation here, where teenager James fantasises about ‘cool kid’ Drew, but also has to deal with the fact Drew bullies him for being gay. The short moves between an almost lyrical romanticism and being fairly intense. As you may expect, there are hints that there’s more to Drew’s bullying than meets the eye, and James’ ‘revenge’ is an interesting one, which brings up plenty of ideas.

Hazel

milkboys Films, Films & Cinema 23 Comments

An obsessive mother, on the verge of a nervous breakdown. A father, carefully blotted out from all the family photos and a dreadful child-psychiatrist with unconventional methods – This is the summary of young Hazel‘s life, secretly attracted to boys…

Something Must Break

milkboys Films, Films & Cinema 20 Comments

The journey of a suicidal transgender teen in small-town Sweden swerves between striking and meandering in this impressive drama. What’s most consistent is the compelling lead performance from newcomer Saga Becker, who stars as Sebastian/Ellie, a waif whose need for sex and love leads to a dysfunctional affair. The object of her desire is a boy whose confused sexuality threatens to destroy the budding relationship.

The film’s bittersweet take on young love is familiar, but the gender-related difficulties add something fresher, and Becker has an undeniable screen presence. Director Ester Martin Bergsmark’s slight film works best as a character study focused almost exclusively on the lead. There’s a grubby ugliness – from transphobic violence to an obsession with urine – and a garish style that leaves an impression, although too much repetition holds it back.

The Guardian

You can watch the whole film on Vimeo–if you speak either Swedish or Spanish. I’ll try to find an English version and link it here when I do.

Something Must Break (Original Title: Nånting måste gå sönder)
Release: 2014, Sweden | IMDb | Website

Lucky Blue

milkboys Films, Films & Cinema 7 Comments

Olle, an introverted, well-mannered boy with an air of innocence and sincerity about him has been camping with his father at the same camping ground with several other people for years now. A sort of tradition that ends in a karaoke party.

Then one summer, a family friend brings her reticent ‘city boy’ nephew, Kevin, and his pet budgerigar. Olle accidentally releases the bird and what follows is a discovery of friendship and love between the guy who has grown up in a loving environment and simply accepts love for what it is and the guy who’s apparently been burned too many times in his own circle to feel comfortable with it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sP9_LlbzIbs