Movie Reviews By Bil Antoniou
Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. Austria/Germany/France, 2012. Ulrich Seidl Film Produktion GmbH, Tatfilm, Coproduction Office, ORF Film/Fernseh-Abkommen, WDR / Arte, ARD Degeto Film, Arte France. Screenplay by Urlich Seidl, Veronika Franz. Cinematography Edward Lachman, Wolfgang Thaler. Produced by Philippe Bober, Christine Ruppert, Ulrich Seidl. Production Design by Andreas Donhauser, Renate Martin. Costume Design by Tanja Hausner. Film Editing by Christof Schertenleib. Cannes Film Festival 2012. Toronto International Film Festival 2012.
Ulrich Seidl once again examines human exploitation and, as with Import/Export, the results are startlingly graphic and at the same time compellingly entertaining. This time the focus is on Austrian women who take their vacation in Kenya and enjoy all the delights that the tropical resorts have to offer: great weather, a generous bar and, as it turns out, young men who willingly offer up their bodies in exchange for monetary compensation. Teresa, the film’s focal point, finds herself getting amorous attention from these men and is slow to realize their game; once her first tryst starts talking about his father, his sister and everyone else in his family whose sad stories can only be healed through financial gifts, she goes from being a charmed tourist to a wise and weary exploiter who decides to get as much as she can for what she gives. Seidl’s unhappy narrative shows a woman who is not disappointed by the negative reality of her situation but simply turns opportunist; what makes the director’s work so compelling to watch, and keeps it from being an exercise in indulgent misery, is that he does not sit in judgment of the evil colonialists nor make the natives out to be victims. The women are marks for these men as soon as they walk off the plane, and there are times when Seidl seems to be wondering exactly who is taking advantage of whom (the women come from a successful, but cold and dull European country full of mundane daily realities; the men live in the tropics and have wives and children while also playing around like mad fools). A fascinating film that will certainly provoke discussion.