Friday, March 16, 2018

TIFF '18 Film Review - Rock My Heart

Jana (Lena Klenke) likes to take dangerous risks. She loves speed, adrenaline rushes, and daredevil maneuvers. The problem is Jana has a congenital heart condition that causes her heart to stop when her pace gets too fast. She has had the condition since the age of 8, is tired of being poked and prodded refusing to have a newly developed surgery that's invasive but could help. After a battle over her future with her controlling fearful mom, Beate (Annette Frier) and more level-headed dad Joachim (Michael Lott) Jana happens upon a horse farm where she bonds immediately with an untrainable horse named Rock My Heart. The horses' owner Pau Brenner (Dieter Hallervorden) needs the stallion to race in the upcoming Rhineland Cup for the prize money needed to dig his farm out of debt.

Director Hanno Olderdissen presents a piece that will hold the attention of tweens and early teens. It's storyline of bonding with an animal, fighting against odds and living up to your commitments are all good lessons. The writing is somewhat telegraphed especially around the subplot relationship with Jana's boyfriend Sami (Emilio Sakraya) who met Jana at a camp for teens with similar ailments. Its reckless thread of Jana refusing her medicine, talking back to her parents and taking wild risks are somewhat troubling but understandable given the fact that the 17-year-old has been in and out of hospitals since the age of eight.

Lene Klenke is very effective as Jana, She can be tough, daring, vulnerable and stubborn all in one scene. Kleneke is particularly strong when she explains how she feels when she riding Rock and why the pair needs each other. Vetran actor Dieter Hallevorden is her perfect foil as Paul Brenner. He teaches Jana discipline, what it means to give your word while he struggles with his own personal financial issues. Emilio Sakraya's Sami is always looking out for Jana's best interest. He wants her to have the experimental surgery that could help her, keeps her secrets against his better judgment and makes a personal sacrifice to help her keep her Rhineland dreams on track.

Rock My Heart is a middle of the road film with a storyline that does not venture too far off track. The ensemble cast delivers on screen but the material could use more original beats. The soundtrack features several saccharine drenched English language songs that are distracting taking away from the moment.   The production has some useful themes that will resonate with the intended audience but will likely not garner wide appeal.

** Out of 4.

Rock My Heart | Hanno Olderdissen | Germany | 2017 | 105 Minutes.

Tags; Heart Condition, Inhaler, Experimental Surgery, Horse Training, Starting Gate, 75 MG, Riding Licence Test, Business Plan, Prize Money.

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