Directed by: Leonie Krippendorff
Distributed by: Film Movement
Written by Jeff Sparks
Films that focus on same-sex relationships have been few and far between and the ones we do get are rarely well-made. Many of them copy the story and themes of older movies like “Show Me Love” and “The Incredibly True Story of Two Girls in Love,” which I don’t think were particularly good movies in the first place. The primary films that focus on same-sex relationships that I hold in high regard are “Blue is the Warmest Color,” “Call Me by Your Name,” and “Cocoon,” the former two are surrounded by controversy. These three are all unique and well-crafted pieces. The raw direction and uncommon story made “Blue is the Warmest Color” one of the best films of the 2010s while Luca Guadagnino’s delicate script made “Call Me by Your Name” something unique. That’s not to say those are the only good ones, they are just the only selections that stand out to me. “Carol” for example is a good film but its themes and structure had been done many times before. But we’re here to talk about “Cocoon” which stars Lena Urzendowsky, Lena Klenke, and Jella Haase. Urzendowsky plays Nora, a teenage girl who spends most days roaming around aimlessly with her immature older sister and her friends while their mother hides away at bars. One day Nora meets an older girl named Romy, who she falls for as she begins to understand that she may not be like other girls.
“Cocoon’s” beautiful cinematography captures the setting of “Berlin’s hottest recorded summer” in a personal way that few films manage to. As Nora and her sister bounce around the city streets, the handheld camera illustrates the nature of their surroundings in both day and night. As for the performances, they’re all strong but the stand out is Lena Klenke who plays Nora’s sister Jule. Jule is older than Nora and often spends more time with her friends or on social media than watching over her younger sister. My main takeaway from Klenke is how she makes Jule feel like a real person rather than a shell of a teenager as we see in so many movies nowadays. At one point she takes on a practice baby for a school project in the hopes that if she has a real baby it will get her neglectful mother interested in her life. When this fails many emotional scenes ensue including one where Klenke gives a shockingly realistic physical performance at a party where she falls ill.
Besides the stunning visuals and a great contribution from Klenke, the writing by Krippendorff has a few weak spots. The primary theme of sexual awakening is rather obvious in the subtext about Nora’s caterpillars that’s laced throughout the runtime. At the time of Nora’s first menstrual cycle, everyone thinks her caterpillars are gross but when she understands her sexuality in the end she can’t find the caterpillar. She searches everywhere only to find a butterfly flying out of her closet. Really? C’mon. Besides some of the on-the-nose writing, “Cocoon’s” realistic characters and excellent visual style make it one of the best films of 2022.
“Cocoon” (Kokon) Trailer