© Movienet Film GmbH

Germany/Austria 2005

Opening 18 Aug 2005

Directed by: Stefan Betz
Writing credits: Stefan Betz
Principal actors: Andreas Buntscheck, Ferdinand Schmidt-Modrow, Joseph M’Barek, Henriette Richter-Röhl

This German comedy is road movie, coming of age story, and Three Men and a Baby. Wong (short for Wolfgang), Schilcher and Hunter stand at the grave of their friend Ralf, who died in a tractor crash in their small Bavarian village. At 16, they realize that life is short and they are still virgins. They cross the border to the Czech Republic on their motorbikes in search of affordable, available sex, which is in short supply at home. (Grenz = border, Verkehr = traffic, but also means sex.) They visit some prostitutes, pick up pregnant Alice from the Ukraine, flee an angry whorehouse pimp, and fall into the arms of their worried parents, older, wiser and still virgins (except for one). The pace is fast and funny; the text is well thought-out but might be difficult in German, both standard and Bavarian dialect. Director Stefan Betz filmed in Bavaria, partly because he received funding from Bavaria’s film industry; also, he grew up in the area. Many residents of his immaculately clean village worked as extras. The actors, perhaps unknown to you, make all the difference. Besides the three boys (Andreas Buntscheck, Ferdinand Schmidt-Modrow, and Joseph M’Barek), there is Wong’s mother (Saskia Vester), who worries when she sees him dressed in thong underwear for a camping weekend. Helena (Dana Vávrovà) is a prostitute with a heart who shudders when they describe her as “mother.” The lowlife Smetana brothers (Oliver Korritke and Götz Otto) reminded me of Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare in Fargo – one small and talkative, one tall and silent. The music doesn’t detract, and Wong even breaks out in song, although this is no musical. If you take it as it is: light and ironic with a grain of truth, and don’t question how the group made it back over the border, it’s definitely worth seeing, especially for young people and those of you interested in the progress of German cinema today. For your information, Götz Otto is one of the lead actors this summer at Bad Segeberg’s Karl May festival near Hamburg. (Becky Tan)

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