Nevrland (2019)

Director: Gregor Schmidinger
Writer: Gregor Schmidinger
Cast: Simon Frühwirth, Paul Forman, Josef Hader, Wolfgang Hübsch, Anton Noori, Markus Schleinzer
Seen on: 17.9.2019

Jakob (Simon Frühwirth) is 17 years old, lives with his father (Josef Hader) and grandfather (Wolfgang Hübsch) and jobs in a slaughterhouse with his father. If all of that wasn’t hard enough, Jakob also has anxiety disorder that complicates things further. When he meets the 26-year-old artist Kristjan (Paul Forman) online, Jakob is fascinated by the older man and they soon meet in-person as well. But things take an unexpected turn for Jakob.

I was pretty impressed with Nevrland, especially considering that it’s Schmidinger’s debute feature. It is really well-made brain fuck, but also an excellent character study of Jakob. It’s not the kind of film you’d say you enjoy, but it is definitely worth a watch.

The film poster showing Jakob's (Simon Frühwirth) silhouette against a red background.

Nevrland has moments where it seems to be in another world entirely. Or rather, where it might be right inside Jakob’s anxiety. These moments stand out, of course, because they are unusual, with fantastic cinematography and sound. And when things spiral from there, it becomes increasingly what-the-fucky, in a good way.

But the film is also really good when it isn’t that ostentatious. When it looks at Jakob’s situation at home, with his father and his grandfather, there is a narrowness and a quiet that draws a very thorough picture of how Jakob grew up and who he has become. Also thanks to the excellent performances, with Frühwirth especially impressive (it is his debut role, too).

Kristjan (Paul Forman) and Jakob (Simon Frühwirth) about to kiss.

Kristjan remains more of a cypher, but I guess that’s just the nature of the character. Especially his reaction when he shows Jakob his art (probably one of the best scenes in the entire film) remained pretty much incomprehensible for me. But not understanding Kristjan is not a flaw of the film – it’s a feature because it puts us on the same footing as Jakob.

Nevrland probably won’t appeal to everyone, and you’re probably going to have to be in the right frame of mind to be able to fall into the film. But when you do, the film certainly takes you for a ride.

Jakob (Simon Frühwirth) sitting at the dining room table. His father (Josef Hader) is standing next to him, talking at him.

Summarizing: really good.

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