Opening 4 Oct 2007
Writing credits: Christoph Grissemann, Jörg Kalt, Dirk Stermann, Heinz Strunk, Antonin Svoboda
Principal actors: Christoph Grissemann, Dirk Stermann, Heinz Strunk, Philip Bialowski, Eva Maria Neubauer
This Austrian film could be called Three Men in a Car. Members of the trio are Herr Anzengruber (Christoph Grissemann), Herr Baisch (Dirk Stermann) and Herr Schwanenmeister (Heinz Strunk). They are, consecutively: a depressed pill popper, an opinionated history professor and a B-level stand-up comedian. While driving in the country, they bounce off the road and crash down the hill. They come to a stop wedged between two trees in such a way that no door will open. The car formerly belonged to Kurt Walheim, former Austrian president and, as a result, it is especially armoured with unbreakable glass. They are stuck. The three begin to talk, as well as consume the leftover herring salad and champagne from the truck to pass the time until help comes. Time crawls and the men go from euphoria to rage, from tears to humor, from philosophizing to despair. They alternate between sharing stories about their past to screaming into the woods for help. A small boy arrives on the scene but he is useless. The film ends five days later, and they are still in the car.
This reminded me of a play I once saw at Hamburg’s Thalia Theater in which two men sit in a car and discuss their lives. Costumes and sets are unimportant; the whole film rests on the actors, who, in this film, wrote most of their own lines. Often the characters were extremely polite, like civilized people going down on the Titantic; sometimes they panicked like mice in a laboratory. It’s an interesting idea for a film, which will appeal to special German-speaking cinema fans. Filming lasted four and a half weeks, and three of those weeks were spent in the car. Heinz Strunk from Hamburg is the only German among Austrians, and some Hamburgers might recognize his pseudonym, Mathias Halfpape, as well as a novel he wrote called Fleisch ist Mein Gemüse. Directed by Antonin Svoboda. (Becky Tan) (Becky Tan)