Sunday, 9 June 2019

German Film Festival (3) - Barrie Pattison has few kind words for HOW ABOUT ADOLF? (Sönke Wortmann)

Sönke  (The Hollywood Sign) Wortmann’s Der Vorname/How About Adolf?  is another one of those European dinner party movies. It kicks off with academic Christoph Maria Herbst berating poor pizza delivery guy Serkan Kaya as he and wife Caroline Peters prepare for a gathering of their friends, suspiciously like those Perfect Strangers clones that have been bubbling up. (I turned up at Event to see the Korean one and it had been switched for something else.) 

Actually the film is re-worked from Le Prénom, a 2010 French film by Matthieu Delaporte and Alexandre de La Patellière.  These must have shaped the German film but as it progresses we get closer to Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

I was alarmed to find myself surrounded by people falling about at the humiliations the characters were piling on their nearest and dearest but then the conduct of Palace audiences shouldn’t surprise me after the screenings of Wings or the Tavernier French film compilation.

The film’s driving concept arrives when brother Florian David Fitz gets there and announces that his expected baby will be named Adolf (without a -phe). Indignation and recrimination break out all round until his pregnant girlfriend, the appealing Janina Uhse, shows up to reveal he was just stirring. It however has got recrimination going with unmarried step brother family friend Justus von Dohnányi having to defend his sexuality (very Perfect Strangers). This ends with him getting the desert in his face and the introduction of umbrella sheltered mother Iris Berben - is it really fifty years since she was that lively female interest in Sergio Corbucci’s Compañeros?

Der vorname is smoothly made, has a personable cast and it does offer Peters’ ferocious final rant but there’s really nothing to redeem the plodding reputation of German comedies here.

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