absorbing European films that adroitly capture the growing pains of queer life
are screening at the Museum of the Moving Image as part of the Panorama Europe
Film Festival, running April 4-13.
Feel Like Disco” (April 13, 4:30pm) is a bittersweet German drama about Florian
(Frithjof Gawenda), an overweight teenager who is a disappointment to his
father, Hanno (Heiko Pinkowski), a diving instructor. Florian enjoys the
company of his mother, Monika (Christina Große), because she indulges his
fantasies about performing disco songs by Christian Steiffen (playing himself).
She also changes the channel from his father’s football game to a gay military
romance on TV. However, when Monika suffers a stroke, and ends up in a coma,
father and son must learn to accept things and each other.
“I Feel Like
Disco” offers imaginative flights of
fantasy, as when Hanno gets advice about having a gay son from a TV sex therapist,
or when Florian dreams romantically about his crush, Radu (Robert Alexander
Baer), Hanno’s pupil. While these fanciful episodes are amusing, writer/director
Axel Ranisch excels at depicting the harsher reality. Scenes of Florian
experiencing heartbreak and embarrassment are painful and raw; every gay man
will identify with his tender emotions. And this is what makes “I Feel Like
Disco” so enthralling. There may be considerable
despair, but there is also a sense of hope. And, as the film shows, when set to
the infectious Christian Steiffen song of the title, there is also a sense of
celebration. “I Feel Like Disco” may
be a familiar coming-of-age story, but it still remains cathartic.
film about a mother suffering a stroke is the engrossing Swiss entry, “Rosie”
(April 6, 2:30 pm). The pre-credit sequence introduces Lorenz (Fabian Krüger),
a famous gay writer, via a TV profile celebrating the publication of his latest
book. His mother, Rosie (Sibylle Brunner) is watching the program when she
suffers a stroke. Director Marcel Gisler makes a terrific visual connection
between the fallen mother and Lorenz, seen in close-up on TV.
plot of “Rosie” consists of Lorenz returning home to Switzerland (from Berlin) periodically
to care for his ailing, alcoholic mother. His sister, Sophie (Judith Hoffman)
is unable to have Rosie live with her and her family. Lorenz reluctantly agrees
to spend a few days every so often, and during his first stay, he meets Mario
(Sebastian Ledesma), an adorable young man who left school to care for his
grandparents who raised him. Lorenz sleeps with Mario one night, but he breaks
things off immediately, because he thinks Mario is only interested in Lorenz’
celebrity as a writer. When Lorenz discovers that Mario has been helping Rosie
out while she is living alone, he increases the friction between them. There is
a hint of Lorenz’s jealousy as Rosie and Mario share a close bond. Gisler provides
another fine visual flourish in a shot of the two gay men spacially isolated
but reflected together in the same car window.
introduces a subplot about Lorenz’s late father—who is seen briefly in dreams
Lorenz has from time to time—that helps Lorenz reconcile his feelings about Mario.
Curiously, this storyline seems to divert from the more pressing issue of
getting 24-hour care for the feisty, independent Rosie. Perhaps if Gisler has
reversed the importance of these two narrative threads, his film might have
been even stronger. That said, “Rosie” is a compelling and satisfying drama.
(April 11, 7:00 pm) from the Czech Republic/Slovakia opens with the wedding
ceremony between the attractive couple, Tereza (Anna Geislerová) and Radim
(Stanislav Majer). But first, Radim’s son Dominik (Matej Zikan) breaks his
glasses and stops at an optometrist shop operated by Jan Benda (Jirí Cerný).
takes it upon himself to attend the wedding, and even photograph the wedding
party on the steps of the church. Next he is showing up at the reception
uninvited. Ye he claims to have been an acquaintance of Radim’s in the past. Radim,
however, cannot place him—or perhaps does not want to. At the party, Jan plays
with the kids, and metes out some justice by hurting a young boy he discovers
bullying a younger girl.
unnerved by the stranger. Her sister says Jan is gay, and probably more
interested in Radim. After Jan ignores Tereza’s request to leave the reception,
and his gift—an urn with his name on it—is “opened,” Radim takes Jan away. But
like a horror film villain, he comes back with a vengeance. The next morning Jan
tells Tereza a long story about her new husband’s ignoble past with his late
lover. His speech prompts Tereza to question Radim about exactly what happened
all those years ago. Other very uncomfortable episodes soon follow.
Jan Hrebejk builds the film’s tension whenever Jan is on screen, and if he
manipulates things a bit for emotional effect, particular in a sequence involving
Jan and Dominik near the film’s end, he can be forgiven. “Honeymoon” makes some
critical points about truth and trust in relationships that truly resonate.
This wedding may or may not last, but it is one not soon forgotten.