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by Ulrike Schweiger

grade: 6.5

If, on the one hand, Twinni seems, from a directorial point of view, a little naïve, it is above all the carefully studied cinematography in predominantly pastel tones that immediately takes us back to the 1980s, with a series of poetic and nostalgic images that never seem excessive or cloying.

Equal opportunity

Twinni is an ice cream that was very popular in Austria from the 1960s onwards and throughout the 1980s. This ice cream consisted of an ice lolly divided into two distinct parts with two sticks, designed to be split in two and shared with another person. An ice lolly with a double pear and orange flavour, covered on the top with dark chocolate. This colourful Twinni is, then, for anyone who lived their childhood and adolescence in the 1970s or 1980s, the symbol of summer.

It is no coincidence, then, that director Ulrike Schweiger wanted to call her penultimate feature film – made in 2003 – precisely Twinni. Here, a decisively crucial summer for 14-year-old Jana (Diana Latzko) – that of 1980 – is staged. A summer in which the girl has to completely change her life, moving with her mother and sister to her grandmother’s village, following the divorce of her parents. A summer in which the young girl will not hesitate to pursue her activist goals, even wanting to become the first female altar boy. A summer that will also witness the birth of the first teenage loves.

It is never easy to grow up. Especially if external events also complicate the situation. And among friendships, the first, impossible crushes and the first, real loves, Ulrike Schweiger has depicted, in this little Twinni, an overall exhaustive portrait of a provincial society, a society of the early 1980s that, in many ways, still seems to have many similarities with today’s society. If, in fact, in this feature film we see how religion plays an important role in the lives of the inhabitants of the small town, it is often the religious context itself that seems rather ambiguous, decidedly unorthodox: a context in which the priest is indeed a figure ready to give correct advice and moral support, but also – and above all – a human being, a man who makes mistakes and is (almost) always ready to take responsibility for them.

And while the ladies of the village – and their daughters – are always ready to gossip, start trouble and be shocked at the most insignificant matters, there are always those who are ready to defend the young Jana from gratuitous meanness. And, in this regard, particularly interesting is the character of the protagonist’s mother (played by an always excellent Maria Hofstätter). Interesting, but perhaps not properly developed, despite her many potentials.

But if, on the one hand, this Twinni seems a little naïve from a director’s point of view – especially because of certain at times clumsy choices concerning mainly the moments related to Jana’s imagination – it is above all the meticulous cinematography and predominantly pastel tones that immediately take us back to the 1980s, for a series of poetic and nostalgic images that are never excessive or cloying. And this is precisely the greatest peculiarity of this film by Ulrike Schweiger. A certainly imperfect film, certainly less impactful when compared to numerous other feature films made in the country that deal with similar topics, but which, on the other hand, undoubtedly presents itself as a sincere, honest product. A film that, in its own way, is definitely good for the soul.

Original title: Twinni
Directed by: Ulrike Schweiger
Country/year: Austria / 2003
Running time: 89’
Genre: coming-of-age, romance
Cast: Diana Latzko, Ingrid Burkhard, Maria Hofstätter, Hanna Halbmayr, Christine Schmutz, Raffaela Rechberger, Melanie Teix, Franz Weindl, Martin Perebner, Philipp Lietz, Stefan Wancura, Horst Backfrieder, Lisa Wildmann, Anna Pfundner, Veronika Polly, Günther Rainer, Erika Mottl, Klaus Ortner, Martin Zauner, Ulrike Altmüller, Sabine Muhar
Screenplay: Ulrike Schweiger, Michael Tanczos
Cinematography: Clemens Lechner, Michael Riebl, Fritz Ölberg
Produced by: Allegro Film

Info: the page of Twinni on iMDb; the page of Twinni on the website of the Austrian Film Commission