Where the Windmills are was the third and final feature film shown at the Lift-Off film festival in March 2017, and was very popular amongst the audience at Texture in Manchester’s Northern Quarter.
The plot is set in a small town in Denmark, centring around thirteen going on fourteen-year-old Thomas. Shy, different, and a little bit bored, he tries to capture the attention of the dangerous and exciting Vikki. Thomas knows how to make bombs, and with this knowledge befriends Vikki’s boyfriend and their gang who plan to get back at one of their teachers for some petty fight.
The day after the gang blow up the teacher’s bike, they are satisfied to find out that he has taken sick leave and won’t be coming back to teach for a little while. After the event’s success, Thomas is welcomed into this strange, menacing gang with which he shares no interests and has absolutely nothing in common. The only thing keeping him there is his attraction to Vikki.
From this point on the film was a pain to watch for me, although I could recognise that for a practically entire teenage cast, their acting skills were quite impressive. The problem might have been that the targeted audience was for a lower age than mine, being difficult for me to believe in the plot. There were many sequences during the film that seemed easily solvable and had no need to blow up in such a way. What the film did was underline how at fourteen, we rarely know how to deal with love, fitting in, or making rational decisions. This follows through as most of Thomas’ decisions are fueled by either his feelings for Vikki or wanting to fit into the group.
Thomas is introduced to a new world of parties and beer, but this all feels very wrong. He isn’t amidst friends, on the contrary, these kids are always looking for trouble and basically bully him into doing things he doesn’t want to do. During one of these gatherings, it is thought that Thomas and Vikki have a sort of relationship going on behind her boyfriend’s back. As a result, she is hit repeatedly by one of the idiots of the gang, and when Thomas is asked to hit her too, he refuses. For some reason that escapes me, Vikki ends up being mad at Thomas asking him to hit her, which again he adamantly refuses to do. Turning up to school with a black eye, she lets everyone believe Thomas is the culprit.
Vikki ruined this film for me, and Thomas’ seemingly unrelenting feelings for her through everything didn’t help much in redeeming it. Clearly Vikki has problems, but her actions towards Thomas were unfounded and callous, making it impossible for me to muster up any empathy for Vikki.
What I did enjoy about this film was how it caught the quicksand of bullying on screen, and how difficult it is to come out of. Too often teachers overlook what is going on outside the classroom, and how deeply it affects a person who is growing up and becoming the adult they will be. We know Thomas will be scarred from this period of his life forever, and what started out as a bit of fun to escape his monotonous life ended up having consequences that are more than skin deep.
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