© Aries Images/barnsteiner-film

Germany 2013

Opening 13 Feb 2014

Directed by: Sven Halfar
Writing credits: Sven Halfar
Principal actors: Tilman Strauss, Niklas Kohrt, Thomas Schendel, Judith Rosmair, Suzanne von Borsody

Talk about a patchwork family. Here we have well-to-do Raimond, who is celebrating his 60th birthday during an intimate family dinner in his luxurious home with wife Judith and teenaged daughter Romy. In walks Patrick, looking like a 1950’s rock and roller with Elvis coiffure and leather jacket, followed by his friend Elmer. They arrived true to form in an antique American convertible. Patrick is more than upset; pissed-off would be the description, if I may use that term in this illustrious media. He has just found his dead mother hanging from a rope in the ceiling. After suppressing some sobs and a trickle of tears, Patrick confronts his father, Raimond. Raimond is more than surprised, being unaware that he had a son with this woman, what’s her name, with whom he had a forgettable one-night stand. The five of them settle down a bit uneasily, partly to continue the birthday and partly to forge into the details of the past. That’s nothing compared to the atmosphere when ex-wife Birgit arrives, followed by her (and Raimond’s) son Holger, a wimpy guy in a white Porsche, which he strokes lovingly.

Birgit, increasingly drunk, aggressively stirs the pot of past faults, abuses, and reproaches, revealing an unsavoury past of the man of the house. Patrick and Elmer get into the act, adding their own perceptions of blame. The atmosphere slowly accelerates into physical retaliations and nothing is the same. Amazing how things can change at one small birthday party in a nice part of town. This film reminded me of the last part of Enough Said, patchwork family interacting, except that this one is hideous with a violent ending.

Much praise goes to Sven Halfar, who wrote the script for this, his first full-length feature film. He proves that he can weave psychological nuances and bring out the worst in people. The actors help him all the way. Halfar studied at the Hamburger Filmhochschule (HMS) and received financial support from the Filmförderung Hamburg/Schleswig-Holstein which is why some scenes are filmed in Hamburg’s Gängeviertel and Elbbrücken. DeAD showed at the Hamburg Filmfest and the Berlinale, both 2013. (Becky Tan)

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