by Kim Strobl
In Madison, the Tyrolean mountains provide the perfect setting for wild bike rides, tortuous curves and steep descents. And the director’s camera handles the space perfectly, moves with agility along the slopes and trails, and gives us welcome adrenalin-fuelled moments. At the Diagonale 2021.
Becoming a famous cyclist. Simply the best. Just like her father. This has always been the dream of 13-year-old Madison (played by Felice Ahrens), who loves cycling more than anything else and has been intensively training for years. She is therefore the protagonist of the feature film Madison, directed by Kim Strobl and premiered at the Diagonale 2021.
Following an unfortunate accident, young Madison is sent away from a training school and ends up joining her mother for a long holiday in the mountains of Tyrol. Here she will make new friends, replace her racing bike with a mountain bike and experience new realities.
Friendship, sport and family, but also the importance of making certain choices and understanding what you really want from life are the central themes of Madison. And so, the young protagonist, following a series of adventures and unexpected surprises, learns to grow up. The Tyrolean mountains provide the perfect setting for wild bike rides, winding curves and steep descents. And the director’s camera knows how to handle the spaces perfectly, moves with agility along the slopes and paths, and gives us welcome adrenalin-filled moments. And this is probably the greatest peculiarity of Madison: a directorial approach that, although at times reminiscent of a television film, gives due prominence to the exploits of the protagonist and her friends, the landscapes that are treated as real protagonists, the mountains that, important and impressive, fascinate and frighten us at the same time.
Madison is a highly ambitious girl who often, in order to pursue her own goals, risks losing sight of what is most important. Hers, however, is a growth path, yes sometimes difficult, yes often painful, but also rather classic, if one thinks of the numerous coming-of-ages made every year. And in this feature film by Kim Strobl, what is least convincing is an introspective analysis that would have needed further deepening. The same applies to the friendship between the girl and her new friend Vicky (Emilia Warenski): the relationship between the two is sincere and genuine, yet as we approach the finale, their conflict is resolved too hastily, to the point of making the whole thing lose credibility.
And this is precisely Madison’s biggest problem: a script that is at times a little naive, that leaves many situations unresolved (there is no confrontation, for instance, between the protagonist and the boy she was in love with), that inevitably ends up being predictable and that, in the end, does not stand for particularly innovative ideas within the national and international film scene. That’s a pity. Because, in fact, such a story had really great potential.
Original title: Madison
Directed by: Kim Strobl
Country/year: Austria, Germany / 2020
Running time: 88’
Genre: coming-of-age, sport
Cast: Felice Ahrens, Florian Lukas, Maxi Warwel, Emilia Warenski, Samuel Girardi, Valentin Schreyer, Yanis Scheurer, Leevi Schlemmer
Screenplay: Kim Strobl, Milan Dor
Cinematography: Stefan Biebl
Produced by: Dor Film