Friday, May 9, 2014

Who to hate?

German with English subtitles 

Produced By: Kurhaus Productions and SWR
Director: Stephan Lacant
Starring: Hanno Koffler, Max Riemelt, Katharina Schuettler, Oliver Broecker and others
Pros: Compelling narration, excellent acting, well-written script
Cons: Possibly too graphic although that's not strictly a bad thing
Rating: ***** of 5 (5 of 5)

First you lie to yourself. Then you lie to people around you. Then you lie to the whole world. And once the lie is caught, your whole life goes into free fall as you lose control - or whatever sense of control you had. To put it very simplistically, that would be the summary of Freier Fall (Free Fall in English). But it would not be entirely accurate for it would hide something very basic - the very human trait of not being able to accept the truth even as it stares you in the face.

Marc (Hanno Koffler, whose acting extends well beyond the script) looks all set to make a great life for himself, with a job in a police unit, a beautiful girlfriend, loving parents and a baby coming along. And then his homosexual affair with Kay (Max Riemelt) changes everything. You start off with disliking Kay for his swagger and believe that he is trying to entice Marc; then you blame Marc for going to Kay himself and starting the affair proper, virtually abandoning his family. And this love-hate cycle between the characters and the audience goes on until you realize that nobody is right or wrong. Everybody is just human. And therein lies the beauty of this film - it is not a black-and-white referendum on homosexuals or on a homophobic society (although there is plenty of that too) but an honest look at several lives destroyed by the fear of the truth.

Perhaps the most difficult part of the movie is understanding whether Marc is homosexual or not. There is adequate evidence to bolster either case. And perhaps, the question itself is incorrect - is human sexuality really as simple as homo and hetero? It is this stirring narrative, full of implicit questions to the audience, that makes this movie so good. Add to that some excellent acting, a wonderful script and a fearless director who does not shy away from discussing every aspect of homosexuality openly (read: the gay sex scenes) and you just start to get an idea of the depth of human character that this movie covers.

One drawback of the movie is that most audiences would cringe at the explicit gay sex scenes. But is this really a bad thing? Is it worthwhile talking about homosexuality while pretending that this most basic of human activities does not happen? Perhaps the director was trying to be a hero here, but so what? If anything, this movie properly shows how a homophobic society treats homosexuals and how the need to fit in to society throws them into well, free fall. Highly recommended viewing for mature audiences. (OTFS)

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