Plot: Christoph (Laurence Rupp), called Burschi (“little boy”), has finally achieved what he has always dreamed of: he is training with the WEGA, Austria’s police special forces unit, under Konstantin Blago (Anton Noori), his big idol. His father Heinz (Roland Düringer) who is also a cop, but turned away from his career towards a more social role in the force sees Christoph’s dream with a critical eye. On a seemingly routine call Christoph ends up shooting a mentally ill man (Michael Fuith) who attacked. Celebrated as a hero by his squad and criticized by the public, Christoph starts to struggle with the events and his role in them.
I was pretty impressed by Cops as it takes a deep dive into police culture – which also means looking very sharply at masculinity. It’s sociological analysis in movie form and one I had yet to see from an Austrian perspective. Istvan handles it very well.
Georg (Josef Hader) has worked as a critic of classical music for decades, but with budget cuts hitting media outlets, he is fired. When it happens, he finds he can’t tell his wife Johanna (Pia Hierzegger) who is hoping to become pregnant despite being over 40 already. So Georg pretends to go to work every day and instead finds himself in the Prater, Vienna’s big amusement park. There he runs into Erich (Georg Friedrich). Despite their differences, the two start to spend a lot of time together, starting to renovate an old rollercoaster. But Georg is also set on taking revenge on his former boss Waller (Jörg Hartmann).
Wilde Maus is a dry and very black comedy that makes you laugh more often than it’s actually funny. It could have stood more female voices, but I did enjoy it.
Nick (Georg Friedrich) is in trouble and needs to disappear for a bit. Through a friend he is sent to a house in the countryside that’s supposed to be empty. But when Nick arrives there he finds renouned but very old psychoanalyst Curt Ledig (André Wilms) there. When Nick is mistaken for somebody who is supposed to take care of Curt while he prepares for a big conference, Nick jumps at the chance. Only Curt sees right through him and decides to analyze Nick, in secret. At least at first.
Über-Ich und Du (which btw. is a wonderful pun in German as it means”Superego and You” but also “About Me and You”) is an entertaining film with great leads that runs a little too long (despite not actually being that long).
While Melanie’s mother is on holiday in Kenya, 13-year-old Melanie (Melanie Lenz) is at a diet camp. Between the sadistic sport sessions and the weirdly military set-up of the entire thing, Melanie finds new friends, earnest teenager sex-talk, alcohol and cigarettes. But she also falls in love with the camp doctor (Joseph Lorenz), 40 years her senior, who shows her some kindness.
Paradies: Hoffnung is probably the most positive of the Paradise movies. That is not to say that it’s a lighthearted comedy, but, as the title promises, at least there’s some hope that not everything necessarily has to be completely awful. That is not much but it is nice that Seidl finishes his trilogy on that note.
Anna Maria (Maria Hofstätter) lives alone and divides her time between working and praying with and for her catholic sect. That includes going from to door with the statue of the Virgin Mary and trying to convert people and get them to pray, too. One day when she returns from one of her tours, she finds that her muslim husband Nabil, paralyzed after an accident, has returned and she gets trapped between her belief in what a wife should do and his abuse.
Much like Paradise: Love, Paradise: Faith is pretty hard to watch. It’s interesting, though and has an unusual perspective on faith. And Maria Hofstätter is fantastic.
Teresa (Margarete Tiesel) leaves her teenaged daughter Melanie (Melanie Lenz) with her friend (Maria Hofstätter) and goes on holiday to Kenya with her friend Inge (Inge Maux). Part of her motivation to go is to find herself a young Kenyan for sex, love and connection. Initially hesitant, she soon does find a guy – Gabriel (Gabriel Mwarua). And then another. But being a Sugar Mama isn’t actually what she’s looking for.
Ugh. Paradies: Liebe is a really good film – which makes it extremely hard to watch. (Which is exactly what you should expect from an Ulrich Seidl movie.) Difficult subject matter, excellent cast and set in scene.