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Ramon O. Torres
The third film in a trilogy by writer-director Gregg Araki. Described as "90210 on acid", the film tells the story of a day in the lives of a group of high school kids Los Angeles and the strange lives they lead.
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Zobel and Karl are a long time gay couple who live together in a trailer home with Lizzie, Zobel's spunky daughter from a heterosexual misadventure. Together these three form a team of thieves who eke out an existence as pickpockets. After a botched job, Karl becomes unable to work, forcing Zobel and Lizzie to seek out a new partner. Lizzie recruits Rudolf, the boyishly charming town misfit. Reluctantly, Zobel allows Rudolf to join them but warns him to never break the golden rule: "No exchanging of bodily fluids within the team." This dictum becomes increasingly difficult to live by as Lizzie's cravings and Zobel's own passions toward Rudolf intensify. Eventually, the golden rule is broken by Lizzie...and then again by Zobel (unbeknownst to Lizzie, of course). An intricate love triangle soon develops amongst the three that is shaped by deception, desire, and betrayal. Written by
Attitude Films <Mail@AttitudeFilms.com>
Diverting, ingratiating European gay comedy worth seeing, but `La Cage aux Folles' it ain't.
What ever happened to the meaning of those steadfast mottos `there's honor among thieves' and `blood is thicker than water?" `Das Trio,' an ingratiating German-made comedy (with sub-titles) taunts and tests these age-old theories to ostensible effect. It's a deceptively simple, amusing, if less than gut-busting tale of a rootless family of pickpockets who invite turmoil into their lot as a clash of very disparate libidos begins to chip away at the fabric of their operation. Buoyed by expert performances, it'll keep a smile on your face at the very least.
Zobel is the middle-aged, hands-on leader of this tiny trio of merrie men who steal from the rich and give to themselves. The two other cohorts are his feisty, independent daughter, Lizzi (from an incidental heterosexual liaison), and his aging, subservient, doleful lover, Karl, who conceals his advancing age with a toupee and prances about in women's gowns as an inducement to foreplay. Somehow managing an existence all these years, their mode of operation is hardly original. I mean, the blind man with the cane routine? Come on. How they survived this long, I'll never know. As the despondent Karl grows more insecure, dissatisfied and absent-minded, the possibility of a new partner is bandied about by father and daughter.
An unfortunate accident leaves Zobel and Lizzi no choice but to prevail upon the raw talents of a young Artful Dodger wannabe, an outcast who takes in snakes as pets and writes crappy poems. It just so happens Rudolf is also a very sexy, shambling young upstart who is only too willing to gratify the father/daughter team in whatever ways it takes to become part of the scheme team. Complications arise, dissension grows, and most of the film's intended humor comes about as the teacher becomes enamored by his new thief-in-training, even though the boy has already taken to bedding down the daughter.
Götz George as Zobel plays the roguish, Fagin-like ringleader with customary flair. One of Germany's most popular actors, the virile actor gets to play an aging and openly robust gay character here, yet loses little of his own characteristic machismo. Slightly softening his edges while infusing him with a gentle charm and a wanton sex drive that just so happens to be aimed at men, George provides a strong, believable center for the film.
Jeanette Hain gives daughter Lizzi a taut, highly appealing Winona Ryder-like quirkiness, and boyishly handsome Felix Eitner as the new third party fits the enigmatic pretty-boy part to a tee. His Rudolf is awkward and ambitious, with a dumb-kind-of-smart off-centeredness that sustains your interest. Christian Redl as Zobel's long-suffering lover and sycophant nets a great deal of empathy from the viewers as the man desperately tries to come to terms with his decline in importance.
Director Hermine Huntgeburth succeeds in comfortably sidestepping the negative, unappetizing aspects of her characters. After all, why should we care about, much less enjoy, the antics of four lowly parasites of society, robbed even of a conscience when it comes to each other? Even more problematic is the fact that we are not always clued in as to the intent or purpose of some of their hurtful, purely narcissistic actions, leaving the viewer somewhat cold and in a quandary as to who or what to root for. Credit the director and actors for nearly overcoming that big obstacle.
By the way, don't let the soft-core, erotic-looking box cover picture with two hands (one female, one male) groping a well-built young man's posterior clad only in tight underpants mislead you. It's an obvious and unworthy ruse to accelerate rental sales. This is NOT a titillation picture despite the fact there are a number of homosexual and heterosexual clinches throughout. Behind it, there is actually an intelligent plot abetted by four supremely professional actors who make it all worthwhile. And it's all capped off by a fun, wry twist at the end.
As a renter, "Das Trio" is a real steal!
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