Whilst coming-of-age films are a studio staples, most of what is produced in Hollywood just doesn’t feel authentic; regardless of how good or bad the film actually is. European cinema tends to be much better at it. Céline Sciamma’s Girlhood and Lukas Moodysson’s Show Me Love are both great modern examples of films which are both diverse and harness both the energy and anxieties of being a teenager. Leonie Krippendorff’s new film Cocoon is another lively and colourful example.
It’s a long hot summer in Berlin and Nora (Lena Urzendowsky) is spending her time hanging out with her elder sister Jule (Lena Klenke) and her best friend (Elina Vildanova). Their mother is an alcoholic and largely absent so it’s up to the girls to look after themselves. Nora’s body is undergoing a number of changes connected to puberty and trying to reconcile a number of complex feelings. This becomes increasingly difficult when a new student (Jella Haase) arrives.
Cocoon is most successful when capturing those uncertainties which come attached to new experiences. Martin Neumeyer’s cinematography is alive with the possibilities of the German capital. Every situation is a new, scary and exciting for Nora. A brave new world. As she navigates the trials and tribulations placed in her path, it sometimes feels a little forced. Whilst the young actors are excellent, it’s the atmosphere which Krippendorff conjures up that makes Cocoon such a vivid and kinetic portrait of youth.
Cocoon is in cinemas and on demand on 11 December.