Who Are We? (2022)

Who Are We?
Director: Jirka Cerny
Writer: Jirka Cerny, Stefan Radakovic
Cast: Felix Maria Berger, Patrick Isopp, Victor Ramos, Alexander Diwiak, Saskia Norman
Part of: Transition International Queer Minority Film Festival
Seen on: 26.8.2022

Plot:
David (Felix Maria Berger) and Chris (Patrick Isopp) have just returned from their holiday together. But even in that relaxed mode, a certain spark seems to be missing from their relationship. Chris wants to try having a threesome, hoping that it will bring some excitement back for them. David is a bit more hesitant, but agrees in the end. With the help of a dating app, they find Lukas (Victor Ramos), but inviting him into their relationship may have unexpected ramifications.

Who Are We? is an indpendent, queer, Austrian film by young filmmakers. For that alone I wanted to love it. But they did make things a little difficult for me.

The film poster showing Chris (Patrick Isopp) and Lukas (Victor Ramos) leaning in for a kiss.

Who Are We? is pretty much an amateur production. And I am not saying this to disparage the film. I, too, have made amateur movies (or rather an amateur web series). You can only achieve professionalism by starting as an amateur first. Cerny has made a couple of short films so far, but he has neither the experience, nor the budget to make this a film on a professional level. (I’d also hazard the guess that he has not been to film school.) For me this was notable in two things in particular – the acting and the editing.

The editing didn’t get the pacing right. There were many a little awkward pauses that hampered the flow of the dialogue and of the story. In addition, many transitions felt a little awkward. Much more limiting for the film, though, was the acting that often felt like the actors just reading lines or giving slightly exaggerated facial expressions. Diagnosing the problem as a viewer, I’d assume that the actors lacked experience themselves, and direction.

Chris (Patrick Isopp) wearing an orange beanie, looking very serious.

Now, the film could have been charming regardless, and there are moments when it almost gets there, but it never quite makes it. There are a couple of questionable narrative choices – like making Lukas, the only PoC in th main cast, a former sex worker (which came a little out of nowhere). And I have to admit that I was more interested in David and Raphael (Alexander Diwiak) than the film which was more preoccupied with Lukas and Chris. [One of the reasons I am assuming that Cerny doesn’t only have much experience with filmmaking but is also pretty young.]

I did like that it included a bit of a critical look at classism, but really, it didn’t look hard enough to have much to say about that. And I definitely appreciated that we got a happy end here. Other than that, I didn’t get much from the film. But I’m glad I saw it anyway and I hope that Cerny continues growing and learning – we need more queer romances in Austria.

Lukas (Victor Ramos) checking his phone.

Summarizing: cinematic growing pains, mostly.

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