Of Girls and Horses

Movie review by
Grace Montgomery, Common Sense Media
Of Girls and Horses Movie Poster Image
Subtitled lesbian coming-of-age film has sex, drinking.
  • NR
  • 2014
  • 82 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Positive portrayals of lesbian relationships.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Nina quietly helps Alex build confidence, doesn't judge her on her past.

Violence

Alex has marks on her arm from cutting herself.

Sex

A few kisses and one sex scene between Nina and her girlfriend that shows bare breasts. Sexual overtones as Alex comes of age. One kiss between Alex and Kathy. Alex says riding a horse bareback feels like sex and tries to kiss Nina.

Language

"Bitch," "ass," and "s--t" (many times).

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Alex smokes. Guests drink at a party, and Alex has a beer. Kathy and Alex get drunk on vodka. Nina and her girlfriend drink champagne. Alex steals prescription pills and trades them for weed, which she then smokes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Of Girls and Horses (Von Mädchen und Pferden) is a German coming-of-age film with English subtitles. This subtle, slow-moving film has some mature sexual content, including one sex scene between two women that shows bare breasts. A teenage girl's awakening sexuality also is explored through some suggestive comments (she likens horseback riding to sex) and two kisses with other women. There's smoking and some drinking and drug use, including a scene where two teen girls get drunk on vodka, and some bad language ("s--t," "ass," "bitch"). One character has marks on her arm from cutting herself.

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What's the story?

Alex (Ceci Schmitz-Chuh) is sent by her adoptive mother to be an intern at a horse ranch after being caught selling and taking drugs. The sullen, angry teen, who cuts herself to cope, slowly starts to open up as Nina (Vanida Karun), a veteran horse trainer, begins to show her how to understand horses. When Kathy (Alissa Wilms), an upper-class girl, shows up with her horse on holiday, Alex is struck with jealousy at the easy bond between Kathy and Nina. But while Nina deals with managing her long-distance relationship with her girlfriend, the two teens begin to form a deep friendship that slowly blossoms into love.

Is it any good?

OF GIRLS AND HORSES is a visual ode to the German countryside. The film lingers on small, subtle moments such as horses grazing in a field or Alex's face as she struggles with unhappiness. It's beautiful and engrossing. The film also does a lovely job of portraying lesbian relationships with no judgment and little fuss. The characters' choice of partners isn't an issue. Instead, the focus is on the small nuances that make up a relationship or the quiet beginnings of love. And Ceci Schmitz-Chuh does an impressive job showing her inner turmoil with little dialogue.

Unfortunately, there's simply not enough meat to make this a truly great film. It feels like a short film that was stretched to a full-length feature. Too much time, in fact, is spent panning the landscape or watching the daily routine in the horse barn. It needs a bit more depth to keep the viewer engaged for the entire film. With that being said, it's still a beautiful film that mature teens and adults will enjoy.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about self-harm. Why do you think some people turn to cutting and other forms of self-harm? What can you do if you want to hurt yourself or if someone you know is hurting him or herself?

  • Why do you think working with animals helps so many people?

  • Kathy and Alex are very different. Why do you think they formed such a close bond?

Movie details

For kids who love coming-of-age tales

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