West Coast Premiere
Switzerland/Germany | 2017 | 86 Min | Dir. Katharina Wyss
Among her peers at school, 17-year-old Sarah (an exceptional Loane Balthasar) is an enigma, rarely socializing and generally closing herself off. What her fellow classmates don’t know is that Sarah is grappling with a range of emotions associated with her negative home life. When an art teacher challenges Sarah to channel her feelings on the school’s theater’s stage, the otherwise restrained teen lets loose, wholly immersing herself in the roles, chiefly those of young martyrs like Saint Barbara. The more Sarah focuses on acting, the more she’s forced to confront her out-of-school problems.
Remarkably, let alone audaciously, writer-director Katharina Wyss centers this unflinching and mesmerizing coming-of-age knockout around a largely unlikable character. Through her unpleasant behavior, Sarah initially challenges the viewer to empathize with her. Yet as the film’s true intentions gradually unfold, this devastating look at young womanhood on the edge pulls no punches. Unconcerned with pleasing any crowd, Wyss has delivered a teen-minded gut punch of a film.—Matt Barone