This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian) Deutsch (German)
by Clara Stern
Breaking the Ice is the story of a long and often painful growth path. The self discovery and the importance of interpersonal relationships. A completely personal, extremely intimate and never trivial story, with a strong, well-marked personality. At the Diagonale’23.
When the city sleeps
Two protagonists. Two different backgrounds. One great passion. Breaking the Ice, the debut feature film by director Clara Stern – presented as part of the programme of the Diagonale’23 – tells us, therefore, about two apparently polar opposite worlds. Two different personalities who meet, who fight, who together learn to know themselves better and finally become adults.
The story staged, then, is that of strict and taciturn Mira (played by Alina Schaller), captain of an ice hockey team. Hockey is her only refuge, since she has a complicated family situation due to her conflictual relationship with her mother (Pia Hierzegger), her grandfather’s (Wolfgang Böck) senile dementia, and her brother Paul (Tobias Resch), who left home after a family accident. Things change for her when Theresa (Judith Altenberger), a girl who is much more cheerful and optimistic than her, joins her team. Together with Paul, who has come back to visit her in the meantime, she begins to discover Vienna’s nightlife and finally learns to enjoy and love life.
Breaking the Ice, then, is the story of a long and often painful growth path. The self discovery and the importance of interpersonal relationships. When Theresa joins Mira’s team, each of the players fights for herself, without thinking of the benefit of the team. Theresa is ready to give them (and Mira) an important life lesson.
With Breaking the Ice, director Clara Stern, for her part, has crafted a script that, inspired by what has been realised in the past in the rest of the world, gives life to a completely personal, extremely intimate and never banal story with a strong, well-marked personality. The camera (skilfully directed by Johannes Hoss) often lingers on the close-ups of the young protagonists, whether when they initially observe each other with distrust on the hockey pitch, or when Mira looks at herself in the mirror in her room imagining she has a male body, or when the two girls meet at night in the hotel where Theresa works. The evenings spent together with Paul first in clubs, then running around carefree and playing hockey on a bridge remind us so much of the beautiful Jules and Jim by the great François Truffaut, but, at the same time, instead of a love triangle, they tell us of the birth of a special relationship, which will inevitably end up changing the lives of each of the protagonists.
Alina Schaller and Judith Altenberger, for their part, have made their characters more alive and vibrant than ever, thanks to excellent alchemy and the ability to play with the subtlest emotions without ever being excessive. There is always time to become adult. The important thing, in the meantime, is to learn how to laugh and appreciate all that life has to offer us.
Original title: Breaking the Ice
Directed by: Clara Stern
Country/year: Austria / 2022
Running time: 102’
Genre: coming-of-age, sport
Cast: Alina Schaller, Judith Altenberger, Tobias Resch, Pia Hierzegger, Wolfgang Böck
Screenplay: Clara Stern
Cinematography: Johannes Hoss
Produced by: Nikolaus Geyrhalter Filmproduktion