Some gay coming-of-age films introduce their romantic plot line in subtle ways - a sudden flowering of feeling between old friends, say. Not so the 2004 German film “Summer Storm” (which you can watch on Netflix here
). There, the moment is signaled - or rather loudly honked - when shy teen Tobi comes across an all-gay rowing team known as the “Queer Strokes”. At which point, the audience can feel fairly confident as to what floats Tobi’s boat.
The appearance of a queer rowing team is not quite as bizarre as it might sound. The entire film is set on a summer rowing camp, and the presence of a team defining themselves by their homosexuality proves the catalyst for all sorts of amusing escapades and charmingly clumsy explorations of homophobia and identity politics. On the DVD cover, the Telegraph hedges its bets by calling the film “almost a guilty pleasure”. But there is no need to be so coy. “Summer Storm” is a heart-on-its-sleeve delight, and only as gauche as socially awkward teens that age tend to be.
And don’t get me started on the lycra...