Nachsaison [Off Season] (1988)

Director: Wolfram Paulus
Writer: Wolfram Paulus, Ulrike Dickmann
Cast: Albert Paulus, Günther Maria Halmer, Mercedes Echerer, Daniela Obermeir, Michael Reiter, Claus Homschak
Seen on: 23.10.2016

Lenz (Albert Paulus) works as a massage therapist in a town that lives off the sanatorium / spa business. But the town has seen its heyday and the few rich guests that make their way there anymore only barely keep Lenz and his family afloat. Therefore he’s looking for other possibilities to earn a little money and make a better living. Or at least drown his sorrows in alcohol. As he’s just about to get laid off, young dancer Nurit (Mercedes Echerer) comes to town to get well and Lenz is appointed as her therapist. But their relationship may not stay entirely professional.

Nachsaison has a few strengths, but ultimately it didn’t work for me. Neither Lenz nor the story itself managed to keep my interest.

Nachsaison has a circular structure that I did like and that was very well handled. It fit the story and the setting and Paulus controls it excellently. It’s certainly the film’s greatest strength. Despite that structure the film did not manage to engage me. I always had to fight so my attention didn’t drift completely and I wasn’t always successful.

Neither did the structure outweigh my complete dislike of Lenz, or rather, my disinterest – dislike is almost too strong. He was a sexist ass who treated women like exchangeable garbage and I did not care for that a bit. Towards the end, there’s also sexualized violence perpetrated by him which is unnecessary in any case and definitely so because Lenz is obviously supposed to be somebody the audience empathizes with – and I really don’t need to empathize with sexualized violence.

It’s a bad combination to sell me on a film, despite the fact that Nachsaison gives us some unusual tropes and constellations for an Austrian film, making it a little atypical which should be interesting in and of itself.

And it is well-made. If the film had forgone Lenz as the protagonist and focused on his wife instead, for example, or if they had drawn in more like an anti-hero and less like a tragic figure, I could see myself liking it. But as is, it just didn’t work for me.

Summarizing: Not for me.

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