starring Nicole Gläser, Monique Gläser, Jeanine Gläser, Christopher Schöps
written and directed by Valeska Grisebach
by Walter Chaw An extremely naturalistic German product, Valeska Grisebach's short (65 minutes) hyphenate debut Mein Stern ("Be My Star") demonstrates an unerring ear for the maelstrom of first love and just-pubescent angst but fails to maintain much interest in its inevitable story arc even over its brief running time. The picture is structured as an allegory for the capriciousness of adult relationships, though in route to its broad statements about the fickleness of attraction and devotion it finds itself choppy and unstructured. Distinguished by a pair of very fine performances from its young romantic leads (Nicole Gläser and Christopher Schöps) that only now and again fall to self-consciousness, Mein Stern plumbs ground already covered with more courage and insight by French auteur Catherine Breillat as well as American filmmakers like Harmony Korine and Larry Clark. More, the editing choices are bizarre (60-some minutes can't support two awkwardly extended dance sequences)--a malady that gives the film a padded, arbitrary, and erratic feeling that only serves to make the film seem much longer than it is while clarifying a dearth of real content and insight. Still, as a student film, Grisebach's painful portrait of that confused liminal period between childhood and sexual maturity is often possessed of a carefully unobtrusive hand and a refreshing understatement. A promising debut, Mein Stern is also not much more than that.