Mein Fleisch und Blut [Place of Shelter] (2016)

Mein Fleisch und Blut [literally: My Flesh and Blood]
Director: Michael Ramsauer
Writer: Michael Ramsauer
Cast: Ursula Strauss, Andreas Kiendl, Lili Epply, Wolfgang Rauh, Nikolai Klinkosch, Hary Prinz
Seen on: 5.10.2016

Plot:
Katharina (Ursula Strauss) and Martin (Andreas Kiendl) adopted their son Tobias (Nikolai Klinkosch) when he was just a baby and now most of their live revolves around giving him the best home they possibly can and maybe try and figure out whether he actually is on the autistic spectrum. Since Tobias lives in his own world a little bit, it comes as a welcome surprise to Katharina and Martin when their new neighbors, the young nurse Nicole (Lily Epply) and her boyfriend Christian (Wolfgang Rauh), immediately get along with Tobias. But it doesn’t take long until Martin suspects that there is something going on with the young couple.

Mein Fleisch und Blut is a decent thriller, but it also comes with a few problems and some overused tropes which meant that I couldn’t really get into it.

[SPOILERS]

It probably won’t surprise anybody much that it turns out that Nicole is Tobias’ biological mother. And she’s come to take her son with her. While Nicole may do evil things, it’s not really her fault though – because she was abused herself and she’s a victim of circumstance (as we’re in a Austrian film, of course there’s incest and religious abuse), as is Tobias, who was taken from her by corrupt adoption agency worker.

That (short summary of the) solution to the story is already rife with clichés that aren’t nearly half as clever as they think they are. And I just don’t buy the corrupt adoption agency worker. Not because they can’t be corrupt but because she would never have gotten access to a child that isn’t up for adoption. And while it is entirely possible that children are given into foster care against the wishes of the biological parents, they can’t be given up for adoption without the biological parents’ consent, no matter the state they are in (unless they’re dead). So that doesn’t really fit together.

But it’s not the only logical error in the film and it is never a good sign when I start looking for flaws in the story and it’s even worse when there are enough flaws to find. At least they handled Tobias’ possible placement on the autistic spectrum quite well. Not only is Klinkosch really good in the role, but I liked that the doctor’s simply don’t know whether he’s on it or not. Especially with the autistic spectrum, things aren’t always clear cut (that’s why it’s a spectrum now and not simply autism). It’s good that this was acknowledged, although they lose some points for Nicole’s magical ability to handle Tobias as it suggests a genetic mothering ability instead of the hard work that being a parent entails.

The cast is generally strong – above all Strauss and Kiendl – but even they aren’t able to save a film that feels and looks more like a TV crime drama that was put together in a hurry than big cinema. Since it’s only Ramsauer’s first feature film, let’s hope he’ll do better next time.

Summarizing: didn’t work for me.

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