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Das wilde Leben (2007)
A cinematic milestone? No! Good entertainment? Hell, yeah!!!
Just saw this entertaining little flick and can't help but disagree with the first review by Andreas Jacke (which quite frankly doesn't make much sense anyway). Directed by Achim Bornhak, who already proved to be an expert at creating an authentic atmosphere with his feature length debut "Die Nacht der Nächte School's Out", "Das wilde Leben" most definitely won't go down in the annals of cinematic history as a masterpiece, but still provides 120 minutes of well acted, lovingly decorated and beautifully photographed entertainment. Based on the biography of legendary German starlet Uschi Obermaier who set out to see as much of the world and have as much fun as possible the movie covers a period of approximately 15 years starting with Uschi's arrival in the Kommune 1 in Berlin in the late 60's and ending with the death of her lover and traveling companion Bockhorn in Mexico in 1983.
There has been some criticism about "Das wilde Leben" changing its tone quite rapidly after an hour with the beginning of their journey across the world but that's not entirely true. Throughout the first 90 minutes it actually functions neatly as an ironic comedy filled with memorable characters that may mostly not seem particularly likable at first, but that you end up enjoy watching nonetheless. Being able to speak German, however, is a necessity to fully appreciate this movie, since a considerable portion of the humor relies on the variety of dialects that are spoken. Although the cast almost exclusively consists of newcomers they all do an admirable job at bringing their characters to life without ever making the mistake of taking them too seriously. Especially Natalia Avelon shows that she is destined to be one of the new stars of German cinema. Born in Poland and raised in Baden-Württemberg, Germany she also succeeds at handling the specific Bavarian dialect the young Uschi Obermaier used to speak with. Similarly flawless performances come from Matthias Schweighöfer and David Scheller (a very underrated actor) whereas Georg Friedrich and Alexander Scheer provide some occasional comic relief. Starting with Uschi's and Bockhorn's wedding the movie then indeed takes a couple of dramatic turns for its final reels which however didn't distract me in any way. Others are of course free to have a different opinion about that.
Tech credits are pro, especially the beautifully designed sets and costumes further enhance the movie's authenticity. For a rather small German production that didn't go the easy way by relying on big stars they obviously had a more than decent budget. That it wasn't enough to obtain the rights for some of the more famous hits of that time gets rather obvious early on, but at least in my opinion it wouldn't be fair to blame the movie for this little shortcoming. Anyone who knows a bit about this kind of stuff is most likely aware of the absurd amounts of money that filmmakers have to pay for every snippet of a song they may or may not want to use. Plus: Both, the songs they ended up with and Alexander Hacke's versatile score support the action excellently. I particularly dig the piece he composed for the demonstration sequence. Natalia Avelon's and Ville Valo's cover version of "Summer Wine" of course isn't half bad, either.
Much has also been talked and written about the numerous nude scenes featuring the beautiful Natalia Avelon, although the most explicit and lengthy one actually is provided by Matthias Schweighöfer early in the movie. There also is some quick but pretty damn real looking oral sex featuring Valerie Lasserre and David Scheller but due to the way it's shot they may as well have used a prosthetic. Still, considering that "Das wilde Leben" has been given a FSK12 (the German equivalent of the American PG-13) both males and females definitely get their money's worth in this department.
Obviously "Das wilde Leben" isn't a movie for everyone. Although extremely well performed most of the characters don't really have much depth, a storyline in the actual sense of the word doesn't exist and the vast amount of nudity may turn more uptight people off. Still, if you can get past all that you most likely may end up enjoying the ride. I sure did! In fact the entire cinema seemed to have a ball on that evening, especially throughout the first 90 minutes.