Apparently it's been branded the German Brokeback Mountain for its obvious similarities, but I enjoyed this a lot more. I always thought BM was a film about homosexual men made for a heterosexual audience. I don't believe that's the case here.
It tells the rather tried and tested story of a man (Marc) realising he has feelings for another man (Kay) at a time in his life that is ironically inopportune.
However, it's disarming and affectionate nature allows that it pulls off the whole "straight-guy-who-belatedly-realises-he's-not" with a fresh feel, assured script, and (always a winner) damn good acting.
It's entirely natural and therefore believable; you'll find no contrivance here, no clumsiness.
Indeed, a factor that sets this apart from similar films I've seen is the confident way it displays affection. Once you get past the initial and (a tad unnecessarily) awkward encounters there is a wonderful intimacy conveyed between the pair that isn't obscured by excessive shadow or so brief it would be missed in a blink. This lingering is wonderful and I hope emulation will follow!
I would have enjoyed a few more conversations between Marc & Kay in order to voice the progress of their relationship, particularly Marc's. There's only really the one in-depth discussion and it is so well done - full of subtleties, frustration and affection - that it made me feel the loss of similar scenes all the more.
This is an accomplished, confident film that is sure to please the most discerning viewer. It explores the ultimate perils of suppression and the fools it will not suffer, as well as the prejudices people harbour and the damage they can do.
The ending is a tad ambiguous but thankfully not as tragic as the film leads you to believe. However, it is likely the most realistic there could have been, and leaves a wealth of possible outcomes to ponder.