Opening 6 Oct 2022
The career of singer Richie Bravo (Michael Thomas) reached its peak long ago. Still, in order to finance his addictions, i.e., drinking in bars and playing games on the slot machine at Terry Bell, he relies on performances in hotels before elderly tourists in the town of Rimini on Italy’s west coast. It’s winter, cold and snowy; the beaches are empty, and his audiences are small. Usually dressed in an undershirt and a fur coat, on stage he shines in glittery suits. For a second source of income, he works as a gigolo or toyboy, sleeping with older women in these hotels. Halfway through this two-hour film, a young woman appears. It is his daughter Tessa (Tessa Göttlicher) who has managed to locate him, 18 years after he abandoned her and her mother. She demands money for the wasted years they survived without support. Parallel are small plots involving the death of his mother, meeting up with his brother (Georg Friedrich), renting out his villa while he is away in Italy, going to his childhood home, and visiting his father.
Rimini is over-long and repetitive, but still worth your time, simply to experience lead actor Michael Thomas, for whom the “role of Richie Bravo was especially created,” according to director Ulrich Siedl. There is practically no background music, but 18 songs carry us along, at least half of which are sung by Michael Thomas himself. German viewers will recognize “So ein Tag so wunderschön wie heute,“ or “Immer wieder geht die Sonne auf,“ or “Amore Mio.“ The final scene shows Hans-Michael Rehberg, as Richie’s father, helpless in his nursing home. Perhaps this film ending was planned to honor actor Rehberg who died at age 79, shortly after this, his last role. There are some sentences in English and Italian for which there are German subtitles. This would have been helpful, too, for the text in Austrian German, which is difficult to understand. Rimini premiered at the 2022 Berlinale Film Festival. It was co-produced by ARTE, which suggests that it will ultimately appear on ARTE’s TV channel. (Becky Tan)