Archive for German Film

Fashion Victims

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , on March 31, 2009 by babydylan

When one thinks of recent mainstream German films, titles such as ‘Run Lola Run’, ‘The Lives of Others’, ‘Goodbye Lenin’ and ‘Downfall’ spring to mind. Nazi’s, East/West division and unification, crazy running red-heads. Ingo Rasper’s 2007 film ‘Fashion Victims’ is refreshingly free of such well-trod storylines that we have come to expect of German Films in the past ten years and manages to be a convincing comedy with memorable characters. Did we hear you gasp? 

It also challenges the definition of what a queer film is. ‘Fashion Victims’ doesn’t follow many of the more typical queer-coming-of-age and coming-out films. Lead Karsten Zinker, played by the offensively handsome Forian Bartholomai (Germany’s answer to Zac Efron but less plastic) is 17 and although he hasn’t come out to his parents, he accepts the fact that he is gay in the same way one accepts they have size eleven feet. In an adorably simple scene between Karsten and his father Wolfgang his father asks, ‘How do you know you like men if you’ve never tried with a woman?’ to which Karsten inquires, ‘How do you know you know you like women if you’ve never tried with a man?’

Roman Knizka as Steven and Florian Bartholomäi as Karsten as the offensively handsome young lovers in 'Fashion Victims'

Roman Knizka as Steven and Florian Bartholomäi as Karsten as the offensively handsome young lovers in 'Fashion Victims'

A postmodern take on the ‘coming-out-of-the-closet’ queer genre where the entire plot does not centre around this, it merely slots it into the storyline along with other dramatic plot points.

The main focus of the story is not in fact Karsten but his father Wolfgang, an aging women’s clothing sales rep who is about to be usurped by a younger, sneakier model – who in an only-in-the-movies twist of events becomes Karsten’s lover. The impression the audience has of Wolfgang seamlessly merges from ‘worlds worst dad’ (forcing Karsten to cancel his Spanish holiday in favour of driving him around to various clothing outlets after he loses his license) to needing an enormous bear hug when he inadvertently bankrupts the family and partakes in epic life fail. Having his wife leave him, his son fall in love with his completion and crashing the one true love of his life, his shiny new Audi car, Wolfgang decides to take the reins in the hilarious climax of the film. This is where the true star of the film finally has her ‘let me shine’ moment. One of the supporting characters, Karsten’s mother’s sly best friend Brigitta, reveals her secret love for Mrs. Bartholomai and in the melodramatic showdown steals the show wielding a shot gun and intent to kill.

Although the ‘Fashion Victims’ plays it safe in some sections, opting for some clichéd scenes and plot points you will see lumbering up the hill in front of you, the pay off is substantial in the last twenty minutes of the film making you leave the cinema with a small grin on your face and a look at the way new queer cinema is heading in the next five years.