Thursday 8 June 2017

Sydney Film Festival - WILDE MAUS (Josef Hader, Austria) Reviewed by Barrie Pattison

The 2017 Sydney Film Festival kicked off nicely for me but that’s what they always tried to do, putting the good stuff early in the schedule to encourage repeater business.

I hadn’t seen anything from celebrity German comic Josef Hader since the 2006 Komm, süsser Tod a thriller, which I enjoyed, with a background in private ambulance companies. He’s taken over directing on his new Wilde Maus. Turns out Herr Hader is channeling Woody Allen but he’s doing it from 2017 Vienna.

Hader himself plays a veteran music critic noted for the savagery of his reviews. Co-workers are impressed. However, after twenty years his salary is fifty percent more than the journalists they can hire to replace him and he finds one of the admiring young beginners in his spot and her reviews appearing under his name and picture. We could have heard more about his relationship to serious music but the Sushi chef, the police sergeant who admires the bitterness of his writing and the girl from the office do give us a few nice moments and laughs

Also his wife, intriguingly sexy but not pretty (a couple of the characters call her
“Man-ish”) shrink Pia Hierzegger has decided she wants to be a mother age forty. The gay client who calls her “a shitty therapist” then turns up on her door with a bunch of flowers proposing an ethically unsuitable relationship

Meanwhile without telling her he’s been fired, Josef whiles his time away in a fun park. We saw this is a Japanese movie a couple of years back. Here the driver of tiny train has to be bribed to run the ride and turns out to be Hader’s former school bully Georg Friedrich, who comes accompanied by young Romanian girlfriend Crina Semciuc with whom he has no common language.

Among the many originators of his misery, Hader picks out the smarmy younger editor for his revenge. He’s even bought a gun. In the meantime Hader’s sucked into Friedrich’s plan to re-open fun park Wilde Maus which a shady debt collector controls.

It’s not a film with any surprising depth but the characters are manipulated skillfully and Hader handles even the most awful of them with winning sympathy.

While this is largely a film of people talking - or not talking - the ‘Scope film making is very pro, running to a few pieces of nice imagery - the rain pelting down on his vehicle still in the parking spot where he had to surrender his entry card,  Hader spinning in the wheel ride, or the borrowed yellow car burning down the ice covered road in the pointed pine forest.

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