Schwarz Weiss Bunt (2020)

Schwarz Weiss Bunt [literally: Black White Colorful]
Director: David Moser
Writer: Sebastian Klemm-Lorenz, David Moser
Cast: Clara Diemling, Elisabeth Kanettis, Sebastian Klemm-Lorenz, Sophie Wegleitner, Viktoria Hillisch
Seen on: 21.12.2020
[Screener review. The film will be released in two days, on December 24, 2020. More info.]

It’s a weekend during the summer holidays. University student Matilda (Clara Diemling) has several encounters over this weekend – with new acquaintances like youtuber Mikka (Sebastian Klemm-Lorenz), new friends like Aurora (Elisabeth Kanettis) and old friends like Ju (Sophie Wegleitner) and Nico (Viktoria Hillisch), and even a job interview. In their conversations with each other, Matilda finds herself reflecting about herself, who she is and what she wants.

Schwarz Weiss Bunt is a sweet coming of age film that impresses with a polished feeling, despite being both largely improvised and Moser’s debut feature. Above all, it captures that summer days-search for yourself-atmosphere that most people will have experienced around 20 years old. It is a trip back in time for me (and others might enjoy the look forward or seeing themselves reflected as they are right now), and definitely an enjoyable one.

The film poster showing Matilda (Clara Diemling), her arms wide open, as seen through a wire fence.

At the beginning of the film, Matilda says: “Suach di selba in de Gschichtn der andern, hat die Oma gsagt. Wenn du di drin findescht – und des wiascht – dann hat a Verbindung, a Kennenlernen, scho stattgfundn.” [“Look for yourself in the stories of others, grandma said. When you find yourself – and you will – then a connection, a recognition already took place.”] I found this to be not only a beautiful quote, but also a very nice pointer at how the film was going to go.

Because I recognized myself in Matilda in many ways, although in others I certainly didn’t. I do recall the feeling of those endless summer days (although more as a school student than as a university student) and I definitely remember that quest for identity and for myself. And damn, those many (late-night) deep-dives with friends where we all, barely 20, would share our accumulated wisdom about life, the universe and everything. The entire film is such a deep-dive. It doesn’t necessarily find the unexpected, but the important thing is the search anyway.

Matilda (Clara Diemling), her arms wide open, screaming.

There were a couple of things that didn’t sit all that well with me in the film too. Matilda is bi (or pan – she never uses a label for herself, but she is both attracted to Aurora and Mikka), which is awesome per se – I’m all for bi representation. But it felt a little like it was used here as a shorthand for “she doesn’t know herself yet”, as if someday she will decide whether she’s into men or women. Let me tell you though: bi people are not undecided, we are decidedly bisexual. It’s never explicitely stated that way and it could well be that I’m being oversensitive here, but dammit, I have seen this bimisic idea too many damn times. Then there was the talk with Aurora’s father (Georg Boder) that was so creepy, it made my skin crawl – and I am not sure whether the film realizes just how many boundaries that dude crossed and how uncomfortable that situation was.

I’m a little undecided about the ending. It is nice in its absolute openness, in its spirit of “the world is yours for the taking”. Maybe this is my jaded, twice-as-old-as-Matilda, sociologist self being world-weary and a little cynical, but ultimately, no, the world is unfortunately not yours for the taking and you might fare better acknowledging that, instead of believing that you didn’t take enough of it yet or your taking wasn’t good enough. But this would have been a damper, one that runs counter to the entire film, so I can live with that ending, too.

Matilda (Clara Diemling) and Aurora (Elisabeth Kanettis) hug as they meet up.

The film was largely improvised and shot with a small crew. Usually I’m very cautious about improvisation, but I did think that it worked very well here. The editing is also tight enough to get to the point of scenes, which is good (often improvised scenes risk running on too long). I don’t know if they shot the scenes in order as we see them, but I did feel like the film settles more into itself the longer it goes on (maybe I was just getting used to the style a little more). Given that it is a debut feature, starting with improvisation is ambitious, but it largely pays off.

Finally, I have to give a small shut-out to the music here: Matilda and friends go to a concert by Gudrun von Laxenburg and they play the one song by them that has been on my “faves of 2019” playlist – Moving Water. Excellent move, I have to say (plus, they mention Ankathie Koi).

Overall I really enjoyed Schwarz Weiss Bunt. It is really nice independent cinema made in Austria. There could be more of this type of thing – and hopefully there will be.

Matilda (Clara Diemling) meets Mikka (Sebastian Klemm-Lorenz).

Summarizing: really good.

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