German filmmaker Monika Treut is renowned as the creator of groundbreaking narrative and documentary films with lesbian and feminist themes, but if there’s anything in the least bit radical about Of Girls and Horses, it’s not what you imagine it to be. This is the gentle tale of Alex (German TV star Ceci Chuh), a troubled, lonely 16-year-old who’s been “consoling” herself with drugs and cutting who is sent on an internship to a horse farm in the quiet countryside, and the charm and delight of her interior journey for us is all about watching her slowly transform from a sullen mope to a vibrant, confident young woman through hard work; the firm but affectionate attention of her boss, Nina (Vanida Karun); the friendship of another teen, Kathy (Alissa Wilms: The Reader), who is vacationing at the farm; and the lively spirit of the horses. The delight for Alex is subtle and unspoken, but it’s plain that she surprises herself at a time when she was consumed with hopelessness and despair. It’s rare to see a story about a teen girl at such a vulnerable age making such a successful transition, never mind her (incidental) attraction to other women being treated in so refreshingly offhand a way. This is a lovely film, and one adolescents of any gender who are adventurous enough to cope with subtitles should see, for its compassionate appreciation for how teen girls can often find a sort of comfort in clinging to their woundedness and pain, but that overcoming that feels so much better.
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