Die Vaterlosen [The Fatherless] (2011)

Die Vaterlosen is the first film by Marie Kreutzer, starring Andrea Wenzl, Philipp Hochmair, Andreas Kiendl, Emily Cox and Johannes Krisch.

Plot:
When their father Hans (Johannes Krisch) dies, the children come together in the house they grew up in, where Hans had built a commune together with friends. Even Kyra (Andrea Wenzl) shows up, who was out of touch for the past twenty years. As Kyra re-connects with Niki (Philipp Hochmair) and Vito (Andreas Kiendl) and meets her little sister Mizzi (Emily Cox) for the first time, old tensions mostly with Hans are dragged up from the past and start to escalate.

For a debut film, Die Vaterlosen isn’t bad. The movie starts off strong, the characters are well drawn and the cast is mostly very good. But in the end, there’s a lot of untapped potential and the plot just doesn’t work that well.

Kreutzer managed to draw convincing and strong characters and the cast mostly has a field day with them. Especially Andrea Wenzl, Andreas Kiendl and, of course, Johannes Krisch really make everything of their respective characters and that’s pretty damn great to watch. Only Mizzi/Emily Cox really got on my nerves – and I don’t even know if it was more the character or the performance (which just wasn’t as good as the rest) but everytime she was on screen, I felt my hackles rise.

I quite liked the setting. The background with the commune was very well-handled and I liked the stylized coloring of the flashbacks (though I seem to be the only one).

But the movie stopped working when it came to the plot. There have been so many movies in this general set-up: overshadowing family member dies, rest of the family comes together, things explode. And Die Vaterlosen just never really has anything new to say in that context. And Kreutzer seems to notice that and tries very hard to counteract it but that doesn’t work out. Instead the whole thing starts feeling a little forced.

Also, with the noteable sexual tension between Niki and Kyra, it felt like Kreutzer wanted to tell an incest story but didn’t follow through. Instead she emphasises that Niki really doesn’t share any genes with Kyra, honest, we swear, there was a blood test. And after a while of that I just wanted to tell her to get over herself.

Summarising: Has its moments.

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