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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Where no one feels comfortable...

3/10
Author: Marcin Kukuczka from Cieszyn, Poland
5 August 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The late 1950s was a time when cinema style was changing particularly in Europe. Austria and Germany also had to cope with that change. At that time, the "international audience" expressed some baseless critical viewpoints about German movies claiming that they are seriously flawed due to their sweetness, unrealism and (overused word) "kitsch." Although most of the voices did not deny that the German cinema before 1939 was very good, they totally rejected their post war films, particularly those made in the 1950s. Meanwhile, Romy Schneider, a rising Austrian star so famous for her SISSI trilogy, was opened to a career perspective in France. When she refused Ernst Marischka to play in the fourth part of SISSI, some different movies were made with her in the lead in order to keep her home (naturally). Some of the movies were very good and some weaker but most of them aimed at "curing" Romy of Sissi sweet image. These were foremost SCAMPOLO, MONPTI and HALBZARTE. However, DIE HALBZARTE by Rolf Thiele is, unfortunately, the worst one.

Sorry but there is nothing positive I can find about this movie. The story is very unconvincing, sometimes deadly artificial; the cinematography is seriously flawed (dark scenes are very hard to watch), the direction seems to be of amateur style. Rolf Thiele was not that green as a film-maker since he directed some pretty good movies. Yet, this one is his complete failure. And the gist of the content: a young girl writing a scandalous book based on her fantasies: something perhaps innovative for the 1950s but not very appealing.

There is also a problem concerning performances. Although the film has very good cast of the time, including Magda Schneider, Josef Meinrad and, of course, Romy Schneider, none of them manages to portray his/her character convincingly. There is a story of a family but no one feels to watch a family; a story of artists but no one can find any insight into their characters; finally a story of a "teen difficult age" but no one can find something vital in its depiction. The focus is put on sex and sexual fantasies expressed in stories, which the parents find outrageous: something deeply universal but poorly executed; yet, something, to the joy of many, not very sweet. But if that was only to suffice...

I think that the reason for the movie to be such a failure is that none of the people making it felt comfortable about the script. As the person who commented on the movie before me said, Rolf Thiele apologised later for the very weak script. But what remained still is. The results are tragic. The symbolic scene of this movie became Romy Schneider looking at herself in the mirror and pretending what her kiss would look like. Due to the fact that this scene is played with her real mother, Magda Schneider, some people found this a reference to Romy's life when she was leaving (actually in 1958) her home for France. Biographical as it may seem, it's not that memorable.

DIE HALBZARTE is not a film I would recommend to you. Romy Schneider was a great actress, she did many wonderful films but this one is, unfortunately, on the list of her weakest ones. You'd better not choose this movie if this is your first Romy film, certainly. If you expect a movie to carry something, at least good entertainment only, this one does not do well even in this aspect. Just a story, just a little shallow film where no one feels comfortable and neither did I while watching it. 3/10!

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

a curious mixture of social study, satire, romance and comedy

10/10
Author: J_J_Gittes
26 June 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Another film with Romy Schneider at the cinema. The 35mm print looked like it had just been struck, with rich, vibrating colors and a clear depth of field – a true delight. The film itself, a work of one of the better and more interesting German directors of its time is actually Austrian. I'm not familiar with Austrian film history at all, and I kept watching it, as though it was a film from West Germany. It did feel more frivolous though, more vulgar, and more direct in its depiction of sexuality, than I remembered from similar West German productions. But this may simply be due to Rolf Thiele, probably one of the big erotomaniacs of film history. Nevertheless I found the film not free-spirited at all. It isn't the total failure some Thiele-experts seem to take it for, but it also isn't much to be proud of. The problem is this: the film starts as a funny and open-minded depiction of a rather unconventional family of artists. The parents, still rather conservative, write (the father) and make music (the mother), the children are an artist (the youngest son), a painter (the youngest daughter) and a poet (Romy). The truly free spirits are the two youngest children. And Romy is caught somewhere in between. At the end of this slightly screwball-y comedy of manners, she marries the sleazy douchebag of an excuse for a male protagonist (or rather antagonist), and the old morals (marry and reproduce) are seemingly confirmed. Of course none of it is that easy in a Thiele film, and he manages to get in some totally bizarre and over the top imagery and situations – but nowhere enough. His inventiveness shows in the sometimes nouvelle-vague-inspired camera-work and his formal playfulness, be it the editing or the phenomenal art direction. But still, the screenplay leaves the film a rather unfulfilling mess, which Thiele doesn't want (or isn't allowed) to make into a film of his won. The longer it goes on the more conventional it becomes. Thiele himself allegedly later apologized for the film, and said he was contractually obligated to make it.

Still, it is an interesting failure (or if you are a morally conservative person it may even be a success), and though I found it at times hideously repulsive in its inhibited eroticism and its constrained play with perversion (give me Tinto Brass anytime over such a hypocritical treatment), the film is a good depiction of its time and the way people thought and behaved – and as I said, definitely not without its merits. Romy Schneider is at times enchanting, and the film is a delight to look at from start to finish. The film is a must if you are interested in the time period, are a fan of Romy Schneider, are a Rolf Thiele completist, or don't care about a films politics as long as its gorgeous to look at.

I'll spare you with the what if's (though I need to say this could have been a masterpiece had Thiele had a free reign). It's definitely one of its kind, a curious mixture of social study, satire, romance and comedy, and it definitely left a lasting impression – even though much of it feels like a bitter taste in my mouth.

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Die Halbzarte

1/10
Author: austrianmoviebuff from Vienna, Austria
9 July 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

At the end of her life, Romy Schneider made a list of her 60 movies, saying that she never really did a great one, and only ten that were "okay". "Die Halbzarte", one of the last movies she did in her native Germany, was decidedly not one of them. Matter-of-factly, this would-be sex comedy is one of the worst motion pictures ever made in German (or Austrian) film history. Shameful enough, this was Austria's contribution to the 1958 Cannes film festival.

Director Rolf Thiele (who later apologized for this work, saying that he was under contract and thus forced to do this comedy based on a half-baked script) tells the story of the Dassau family, a family of artists: Frau Dassau (Magda Schneider) is a composer, her husband (Josef Meinrad) is a writer, and their children are equally gifted as painters, poets and musicians. But unfortunately, no one wants to invest money in their art. The family is about to starve when Nicole (Romy Schneider) comes up with a marvelous idea: She is going to write the "most scandalous book", the sex memoirs of a teenager. For this, she hides under the pseudonym of Eva. The book becomes an enormous success indeed, but Nicole's parents are decent people, and the public interest in their sluttish daughter begins to bother them. Things begin to get even more unpleasant when Nicole falls in love with an American publisher (Carlos Thompson) who'd prefer a virgin…

Hypocritical, sexist, unfunny, badly written, photographed and acted – it is very hard to say anything positive about "Die Halbzarte". If you don't like wasting your time with bad entertainment (in fact, this isn't even entertaining), you can surely miss out on this one.

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