Director: Franz Novotny
Writer: Gustav Ernst, Franz Novotny
Cast: Hanno Pöschl, Paulus Manker, Isolde Barth, Eddie Constantine, Ulli Neumann, Kurt Kren, Konrad Becker, Peter Turrini, Ernst Schmidt Jr., Peter Patzak, Peter Weibel, Curt A. Tichy, Hans-Georg Nenning
Seen on: 15.6.2016
Kirchhoff (Hanno Pöschl) has big dreams: he wants to open his own café. All he needs is his coffee machine and some funds to get going. And a place to rent. And… but instead of really going for it, he rather spends his time with his buddy Plachinger (Paulus Manker), hitting on women and coursing through Vienna, stumbling from one bit of trouble to the next, always ready to explode as long as it doesn’t get boring or serious.
Exit… nur keine Panik is a coarse film, often (but not always) charming in this coarseness. Charming or not, it is entertaining.
I’m not a huge fan of films that are all about guys behaving like assholes and having the time of their lives while they’re at it. Their antics can be amusing for a while, but then they usually grow tiring. And more often than not, they are steeped in misogyny and homophobia. Exit… nur keine Panik is a prime example of all of those things, and yet something about the frantic pace of it kept me engaged longer than I would have been otherwise. In fact, I was engaged until the very end, even though there were definitely moments that made me cringe.
That the film worked for me is mostly due to the fact that Novotny doesn’t glamorize Kirchhoff’s escapades. They might be fun for him, but we see the very real impact it has on the people around him. And while the audience may laugh along for a while, even a very long while, your mileage will vary, there will come a point when the laughter will get stuck in your throat.
Ultimately, Kirchhoff is a doomed character. His dreams are big, his mouth even bigger, but he works at nothing as hard as at his own destruction, making sure himself that his dreams will fail, stacking his own deck against himself for the thrill of the moment and the refusal to think or plan or commit to anything really. Pöschl does one hell of a job in the role.
After Pöschl, the second star in the film is Vienna itself. It’s always weirdly great to see films set in your own city, and even though I wasn’t alive in 1980 yet, it feels like Novotny very much captured the Vienna of the time. It’s certainly a far cry from the sanitized versions that we get to see when non-Viennese people make films that are set here. That just adds to the charm of the film, making it even more enjoyable.
Summarizing: Not unproblematic, but worth seeing.