Picco (2010) Poster


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Hard-hitting borstal film has the smarts
Picco is the name given to new inmates in a juvenile prison somewhere in Germany. It basically means lackey. The prison is not nice, and the kids are told that they're there for punishment, which I have a problem with straight off, because I don't see how that's a 21st century concept. I have never seen anyone respond positively to punishment, ever. The opening of the film shows a montage of prison graffiti including a slogan, "In this house you have one friend, yourself".

The boys have nothing to do except see a useless psychiatrist and go to church. So the devil makes work for their idle hands. The results of this are not very pleasant to see, and if for example you couldn't take Alan Clarke's Scum (which this is based on), don't go and see it.

I think the film is quite knowing, it recognises for example that psychological pain is just as bad if not more so than the physical version, and even with violence its the psychological context that tends to be the most painful ingredient. Physical pain aside from maiming doesn't last long in the mind, being made small however can last a lifetime. This isn't a reality that the system recognises, and when a group of boys set out to quite literally blow the mind of another boy, it is the victim who is punished when he explodes and has to cope with solitary. Kind of a game.

The authorities aren't all that good at keeping the vulnerable and the aggressive teenagers apart. I think the bullying as well is very realistic. For example a kid who is initially bullied for fun, later becomes bullied because his broken state and weakness is so despicable. It has often been said that public school (dorms and studies) prepare one well for prison life, and actually I was very much reminded of school study experiences watching this movie. I even knew a kid who was tweaking in the way the really dangerous inmates did here, kind of had a permanent testosterone imbalance I presume.

Another thing that the kids know, is that they are write-offs. So what is there left for them to do except extremely nasty things to each other.

Very hard to watch, but raises important points about the purpose of incarceration.
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What were the motives again?
Bitoque7 December 2010
Just saw this film at the Camerimage Festival in Poland. I don't know what angered me more, the fact that they made us watch 30 mins. of unjustified torture, or that the director managed to screw up this film, even though he had a good DOP, (mostly) good casting, real locations and a true background story. first of all, if you shoot a film in a real prison, that means you want authenticity. so why not achieve this, by also having the actors improvise a bit, instead of making all dialogue sound like it was scripted by an 18 year old, who has seen Alan Clarke's "Scum" a few too many times. this made some of the scenes, especially the ones with "Frau Schmitt" seem like a TV soap drama, rather than a hard hitting prison film. I think this was extremely unfair to the main actors, who seemed to try their best, but, with the exception of Frederick Lau, all seemed unbelievable to me. Next, if you make a film about something that's so horrible, that we can't understand it, don't just show "What" happened, show "Why" it happened. I've never seen a film, in which the motives for something so cruel and disgusting were just never given at all - maybe "Saw". But it seemed to me that the filmmaker had the goal to make the people reflect, but if there's no motive, then the deeds become just "Evil" (brilliantly used in Funny Games) and unexplainable. the only goal someone will achieve by that, is to make us hate and fear these people even more. but isn't that the job of the yellow press? i thought a filmmaker's job was to raise questions and not give answers, if making a social commentary. i'm sure, the director's comment would be, that to leave these motives out, makes us think about it more - well, if you make all characters involved, 2 dimensional, then thats not very likely. and last but not least, if you copy a brilliant director like Alan Clarke, look at how he did his films first, and his motives to make his films. don't just copy people! I give it 3 points for the camera, Frederick Lau, and because i liked some of the extras, but will withdraw one for the terrible last 30 mins. i found it especially disrespectful, not only for the audience, but for the victim of the real crime. So don't believe the hype! this film is mainly just bad filmmaking! cruel only to the audience, his actors and authenticity. It's like someone who wants to be Haneke, but made Saw 6. Good Night And Good Luck!
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Based on real events and well researched-important stuff
supermaggie3 January 2018
This is not at all a movie which is condoning or even celebrating violence, and it is not a trivial story or dialogues at all, it was well researched by the director and (sadly) based on actual events in Siegburg. It cleverly and intensely shows the dynamics of violence, of how sadists start a climate where more peacefully orientated individuals start joining in in order to save themselves - which does not only teach us something about prisons but about human behavior in general. The movie was shown and well-received (with tears, not cheers)/understood/approved in juvenile prison facilities, which shows that it is not unrealistic or meaningless at all. It has the power to raise awareness and to reach people who otherwise never understand the mechanisms and consequences of their own behavior. It is a truly important movie, even if it is (therefore only 9 stars) an unpleasant movie - and this is the only reason for negative reviews: not because it isn't true, but because it actually is true and humans tend to ignore and bury unpleasant truths. A great piece of work.
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Good film, but really hard to watch
Horst_In_Translation11 August 2017
Warning: Spoilers
"Picco" is a German 105-minute film from 2010, so actually not that long anymore until it has its 10th anniversary. It is perhaps the most known effort by writer and director Philip Koch, especially if you restrict the category to his directorial efforts. The cast includes many young actors from Germany as this is the story of a young man going to prison and (not) getting along with his cell mates while learning about group mentalities in there and life behind bars in general. The central character is played by Constantin von Jascheroff, but I would not say that he gave the most memorable performance. This honor probably goes to Frederick Lau who is just so good at playing evil sadists, even if he, like everybody else, is also a victim of the situation. Second is maybe Swiss actor Joel Basman and with him I have a feeling we will still hear a lot about him in the future. Then CvJ is pretty much on par with Martin Kiefer. A true scene stealer is young German actress Leonie Benesch, who truly made an impact with the little screen time she has. Rainer Bock was solid too, but I am biased here perhaps because I quite like him. Hasanovic is maybe another known name in here.

As a whole, this really is as depressing as it gets to watch these young men with basically no future also losing the last of their connection to outside jail while losing their humanity inside jail. The first 75 minutes or so were okay, a bit mediocre perhaps, but solid moments here and there (like the previously mentioned Benesch scene). But the final half hour is really heavy stuff and to not take anything away from your experience, I won't go a lot into detail. Lets just say you need a thick skin for both the physical, but also the emotional torture that starts the escalation with a letter from loves ones being burnt and this was perhaps the saddest moment of the entire film for me. Basman really shines there and also in everything afterward. Overall, this was a good film, but you really need a thick skin to watch and "enjoy" it. If you got that, then go see it and I am positive you won't regret it.
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Free violence
anderson-santos-br8 April 2013
The technical parts of the movie, for my eyes, are quite good, the actors were convincing and it's based on a real story, which could mean something, but for me the movie was based on free violence and bullying. Hardly got me on anything. Was not pleasant to watch and even though I don't speak German very well and I watched only in German, most of the dialogs were very superficial. No real conflict for me, if the director wanted to raise awareness of the way we deal with the young prisoners, it is quite disappointing. The plot, for its contents and interactions, instead of almost 2h of movie could have been told in 30 minutes. I'm very disappointed with the movie, and feel like there was a complete lack of purpose, if that was intentional or not, I wouldn't recommend it to my friends.
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