Friday, 15 September 2023

Rimini [2022]

 The hulking, hustling, hard-drinking, debonair, has-been Richie Bravo (Michael Thomas) – a middle-aged lothario perennially recalling his past glory, and attempting to reconnect with his estranged daughter Tessa (Tessa Göttlicher) – might lead one to draw comparisons with Aronofsky’s The Wrestler. The resemblances, however, end right there, as it was helmed by the Austrian provocateur Ulrich Seidl, whose politics and aesthetics stand diametrically apart. Rimini – one half of his diptych, which also comprised of the unapologetically scandalous Sparta – is a dreary and desolate film packed with gaping existential, familial and societal voids. Furthermore, its bone-dry cynicism, sexual grotesquerie, and cutting political commentary were captured in his customary style – spare visual framing, formal exactitude, and deadpan malice – which coalesced the grimy and sordid with radical melancholy. It began with Bravo briefly reuniting with his brother Ewald (Georg Friedrich) – the rotten centrepiece of the other half of the diptych – and their aged dad (Hans-Michael Rehberg) – afflicted with dementia and residing at an old-age home in Austria – upon his mother’s death. Once a popular crooner, he is now a lounge singer who charms a diminishing crowd of old-timers with his silky voice and retro garments at a chintzy hotel in the titular Italian resort town, while earning additional bucks by seducing his geriatric women fans to bed. The unanticipated appearance of his daughter, who lives amidst impoverished squatters, inspires him to rise beyond his shallow artifice and also leads him to touch new depths of depravity. Three odiously funny moments stood out – Bravo’s father spontaneously breaking into a former Nazi Youth anthem; a tipsy Bravo inadvertently trying to work his charms on Tessa; Bravo, with his pompous racism, playing host to impoverished illegal migrants.

Director: Ulrich Seidl

Genre: Drama/Family Drama

Language: German/English/Italian

Country: Austria

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