A tracking shot glides through a suburban Polish neighborhood. Posh, clean, more modern than the rigid formality of the old communist housing blocks downtown. A kid rides his bike over the perfectly geometric stone-lined street and the camera follows. Even the kid is sat upright, perfect posture on the bike, proper in every way, as he passes the ornate gateways lined with perfectly kept shrubbery. A neighbor passes walking their yapping lap dog and the camera decides we do not need to follow them. The bike goes one way and a Lexus luxury sports car turns into a drive. We leave the kid and follow the car to a partly open garage. Under the half open garage, bouncing techno and disco lights bounce along with a man dancing in the Hakken club style, all half arm chops and short heel kicks. The camera spins around and his friend sits next to him, watching him with intent, nodding along. One of the kids’ mom opens the garage and ends the party, time to help her bring in groceries and for the friend to leave. The garage closes, and the best early shot of the year is accomplished.
It’s a perfect shot, not because of the technique and the form needed to do the tracking shot, but because of what it says, in plain and unadorned language, about where the film takes place, who the people inside the film are, how they relate to each other, and this miserable moment of young adulthood where you really think you’re something but still need to help mom bring the groceries in. Love Tasting is all about these small moments, situated as a series of connected vignettes about the nature of young love and testing societal boundaries.
It’s made with a microbudget and yet has the right amount of flavor and color. The pieces do not always connect. Sequences do not always go somewhere. But left to bask in the lackadaisical summer daze of it all, there is always a feeling behind what is presented on screen. So much of it is just the ordinary stuff: hangouts by the pool and outdoor volleyball and general European tracksuit culture. But the tenderness of the picture is easy going and winning enough that its simplicity never presents itself as a problem.
Everyone gets more than a taste of love. A young girl’s life changes forever with a positive pregnancy test. Two young men hang out until they want to become each other and explore their sexuality within Poland’s No LGBTQ zones, which shockingly still exist. Everyone is uprooted from the nascent carefree dreams of childhood and has to confront the imminent adulthood looming over them. Director Dawid Nickel proves a fair and visually interested chronicler of this time of total transformation.