Talea – A weekend holiday in the countryside will never be enough to transcend the psychological obstacles of youth.

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Katharina Mückstein’s tonally astute, quietly transfixing Talea is a mother-daughter drama that makes no assumptions of any inherent intuitive bond between two biological kin. Though not a wholly pessimistic work, there’s an underlying skepticism buried in the minutiae of the interactions between Jasmin and her mother Eva as Mückstein questions whether maternal instincts can really be enough to bring two people back into sync after years of separation. This carefully composed emotional rift is just the compelling centre of a drama that poignantly illustrates a disconnection from the world at large – and while the still developing Jasmin and the more worldly Eva seem to each harbour their own respective feelings of alienation (Eva, after all, is freshly out of prison), Talea feels hypnotically attuned to the loneliness of adolescence in particular.

This focus is evident from the opening sequence, which sees a line of young high-schoolers in swimming costumes, stretching their limbs in preparation for the physical trials to come. Jasmin, meanwhile, doesn’t even enter the pool, sitting meekly by the side in an aura of deceptive tranquillity that we soon discover masks repressed frustration and anxiety. That tension later boils over in a confrontation with Jasmin’s foster family over her reluctance to wear a tight pink dress, sending her rushing to her biological mother as the two take a trip to the country together.

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