Updated: May 14
I think it was Holden Caulfield who said that the movies can really screw you up. For any young man watching events unfold in Peter Gantzler's 2011 coming-of-age drama Dreng, this pearl of wisdom might certainly hold true. Older, sexier woman seducing skinny, teenage boy with a vocabulary that essentially comprises one word: ok. I mean, seriously?
In his addiction to masturbation and predilection towards monosyllabism, eighteen year-old Christian (Sebastian Jessen) is, we assume, a fairly typical teenage boy. Indeed, such is his addiction to self-pleasure one can’t help but worry about the poor lad's eyesight. This boy is obsessed I tell ya, obsessed.
But I digress. The film kicks off with Christian being propositioned by a rather nubile young girl who offers to sleep with him, if only he'll come to a party. Chris declines the offer. Although the title of this film - Dreng - translates to boy, based on this behaviour 'Strange boy' might be more appropriate. Gift horses and mouths spring to mind. And so the masturbation continues. If only he'd taken up that very generous offer . . .
Working the summer holidays as assistant caretaker in the block of flats in which he and his somewhat austere mother live, Christian one day meets the sultry Sanne. It's lust at first sight - for her, not him. Sexy Sanne (Marie Louise Wille) wastes no time in inviting the young scamp up to her flat to 'fix her washing machine….' These Danish girls certainly don’t beat around the bush do they? Whatever they put in the water of Copenhagen works a treat.
'There's a first time for everything,' says the head caretaker when a nervous Christian confides in the older man of the task ahead - fixing washing machines. You never forget your first washer. And so Christian arrives at Sanne's flat whereupon he gets stuck into the toilet. (She's fixed the washing machine herself).
While the monosyllabic teenager fiddles with the cistern, Sanne comes into the bathroom announcing she wants a shower - as you do. Naturally Chris is a bit gobsmacked. The poor boy can hardly concentrate on his plunger. And so it begins. Soon, Christian is involved in a torrid affair with his sexy neighbour. Thankfully, the masturbation abates, and not before time.
After their first encounter in which Sanne practically rapes a nervous and highly bemused young stud, there's no looking back. Would such an attractive woman really take such pains to seduce the neighbourhood geek? Hmm. If you can cope with this improbability, then Dreng settles down into a rather tender film which explores the taboo subject of intra-generational relationships. She is, after all 36, he is 18. Can such a relationship ever work?
Of course Christian's rather unstable mother does not approve, a reality that is dramatized in a very tense dinner party scene, in which Chris and Sanne invite mum upstairs to their love-nest.
The fact that Sanne is a single mother - an unemployed single-mother with what we guess is rather a lot of baggage, does not bode well for the couple. Nor does the fact that Christian is due to start university once summer ends - a bombshell dropped by Christian's mum during this most excruciating of meals.
Subtle hints that Sanne might have her own emotional issues may explain her decision to seduce the naïve student in the first place. Following the dinner from hell the lovers' relationship unravels at a rate of knots. Reality, so it seems, must be faced. The naysayers were right after all: Love (lust) is sometimes - often - not enough in itself to sustain us. Right from the start the odds are stacked against these guys.
While women in fiction (movies) are always active, sexually liberated and initiators, such is not the case in real life (sorry feminists). It's always the women chasing the men in film. Have you noticed? Which is probably why Holden Caulfield doesn't believe a lot of what he sees in the movies.
Having said all that Dreng is always a watchable film. This is a film that taps into the psyche of the geeky male teenager. And there is no denying it, as a fantasy come true, with her cute smile, delectable curves and brazen sexuality, Marie Louise Wille perfectly fits the bill.