Edgar is a waiter in a mediocre restaurant, where clients and even his mistress prove abusive, while his sick wife and criminal neighbors are no better. How bad it gets is a matter of ... See full summary »
A surreal black comedy set in a decrepit 1960's housing development. When his mother is drawn into sainthood and the resulting frustrations of his father become too difficult to manage, ... See full summary »
Alex van Warmerdam
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David O. Russell
Robert De Niro
Vox Populi is a black comedy about an experienced politician suffering from a midlife crisis. When he comes into contact with the common-man's logic of his new in-laws, this has a ... See full summary »
Edgar is a waiter in a mediocre restaurant, where clients and even his mistress prove abusive, while his sick wife and criminal neighbors are no better. How bad it gets is a matter of discussion between Edgar, script-writer Herman, his meddling girl-friend Suzie and various other characters, who regularly complain to Herman, who thus repeatedly changes the script... yet never to everyone's satisfaction, least of all his own. Written by
I am pleased to report that Alex van Warmerdam's "OBER" was well received by the audience at yesterday's Toronto International Film Festival screening. Spectators can be fickle at 9:45 a.m., and it is a testament to the director's talent that his film elicited a laugh-out-loud response from beginning to end.
I tend to be skeptical of films from the Netherlands. I'm no philistine, but I have encountered several movies from this region that I can only describe as "weird." Now, I won't claim that there aren't unusual elements in this film, but they are employed in the service of comedy rather than abstraction.
Warmerdam, himself, plays Edgar, a middle-aged waiter who suffers through confrontations with his belligerent customers, unruly neighbours, his chronically ill wife, and his demanding mistress. Warmerdam's dead-pan performance is so consistent that the passivity that defines his character is not compromised when Edgar visits Herman, the screen-writer who is controlling his destiny; he is simply worn out, and has come to request, not demand, that his life might be propelled in a more agreeable direction.
Herman concedes, but as any screen-writer will attest, a compelling narrative requires conflict. The various fates that are in store for Edgar are, yes, unusual at times, but the comedy is particularly strong in this film because each trajectory is so "unexpected." Another festival film this year is "STRANGER THAN FICTION," (w/ Will Farrell & Dustin Hoffman) which has a similar premise. It was sold out before my tickets were assembled, so I can't assess whether or not it is as successful in its execution as OBER. I do feel, however, that Warmerdam's film has the potential to satisfy a wider audience than it will ever encounter, and I would urge people to seek it out. It is a film with great depth, but it needs to be emphasized that, first and foremost, OBER works as an accessible comedy that even the most skeptical movie-lovers will enjoy.
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