In order to deal with the break-up with his girlfriend Sylvia, Ben decides to take drastic measures: He will start smoking. He will sit down in his car and drive aimlessly into the night. And he will never sleep again. During a stopover at a fast food restaurant, however, Ben's plans seem to fail: Peter, a travelling musician, wants to hitchhike to Salzburg to play at an open-mic night in a bar. Peter's openness and his zest for life soon put Ben's denial to a very hard test ... Written by
a sensitive and gripping film about loss and new hope
At last I had the possibility to watch this movie. And actually I enjoyed the 40 minutes of its running time.
The most gripping feature of this short film was in my case the original idea. As I have myself lately experienced a broken friendship with the girl of my life, I was very touched by the movie's theme. And director / writer Genzel treated the subject with lots of sensitiveness.
One can really feel Ben's pain when he gets the message of the terminated relationship which was sent him on a videotape (as this is how the movie starts). Later in the movie we get to know that bringing a message by videotape is widely regarded to be much personal than writing an email or a letter. Ben sets about to overcome the deep loss and depression he is dropped into. And here Genzel puts in some really clever plot points. For example when Ben meets the lonely traveling singer Peter Engel (which is an apparent reference to "the helping hand" or "your best friend in misery" as his name is translated with angel)and they not only talk about the importance of music but also about Peter's own miserably emerging relationship and how he dealt with it.
In a further scene Ben gets to know a father with his daughter traveling from America to Salzburg (I think it's not a coincidence that the mother stayed at home, 'cause the family is now not united and therefore looking for completion which Ben can give, if only just for some moments). And on this occasion Ben is again confronted with the possibilities of a camera - which can actually transport some really warm and personal messages.
What I strongly missed in "schlaflos" was a solid leading part. Ben, alias Maximillian Simonischek, was not really convincing as a person who is faced with an emotional dead end and appears to be often not engaged enough in his role. He also has lots of problems to show emotions and it is sometimes not that surprising that his girlfriend does miss some diversification in their relation. He is also very hard to identify with. All the more outstanding was Stefan Murr alias Peter Engel. He performed so naturally and effortlessly that one had to love his character. He reminded me very much of Paul Hogan's part in "Almost an Angel" (kind of a coincidence that Peter's name can be seen as a reference not only to his function as "the helping hand" but also to Paul Hogan's great debut in John Cornell's film from 1990).
All in all "schlaflos" is a great narrative film about a very personal subject all of us can identify with (altough not necessarily with the leading actor). And that's why this movie gets straight in one's heart.
For a short film it's a very solid achievement. 6/10
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