I have a weakness for first features. But because there is justice in the world, weaknesses are punished. Most debuts aren't worth the acetate they are printed on. But every now and then, a karmic slip occurs and a firstborn comes out spic and span. Robert Thalheim's "Netto" is like that. Made as part of the director's graduate studies, "Netto" is a tough, yet touching story of a prodigal son (Sebastian Butz) reclaimed by his misfit father. Worn thin by years of unemployment and drinking, daddy (Milan Peschel) has a hard time keeping up with the women in his son's life: his all-but-absent mother Angelika (who found herself a yuppie boyfriend) and his would-be girlfriend Nora. As usual, Milan Peschel shines in the part of the underdog. Sebastian Butz is no less convincing in his adolescent clumsiness, especially in a scene that has his character acting all bashful and confused when Nora tries to snuggle up to him in her secret attic lair. Throughout, the script reflects profound insights into the emotional dynamics of family ties. For example, while Sebastian is more than skeptical about his father's ambitions to make it big as a hotshot bodyguard, he can't help defending him in front of Nora. The ending is a melancholic variation of Dennis Dugan's "Saving Silverman". Where Dugan brings in Neil Diamond (as himself) to save the day, Thalheim digs up Eastern country pioneer Peter Tschernig (as himself) to cast a ray of light into the darkness. Says Sebastian, addressing Nora and referring to "Star Wars": "The movie is so good, you might as well watch it by yourself."
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