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  • Writer's pictureBen Turner

Tomcat ***

Starring: Philipp Hochmair, Lukas Turtur Director: Händl Klaus What initially looks like an innocuous drama about a gay couple and their cat is anything but in reality. This Austrian drama explores what happens when a person does something completely out of character, looking at the ripples it causes on the people who thought they knew them before. Stefan (Turtur) and Andreas (Hochmair) have been in a relationship for many years. Sharing a love for classical music, they live together in wealthy suburbia, where they have adopted a cat called Moses. A substitute child of sorts, the cat floats in and out of their home, quietly observing their comfortably intimate lives. But in a violent outburst, Stefan threatens to destroy their entire relationship as Andreas no longer recognises the man he fell in love with. Violence is something seen so regularly in films, but this indie drama looks to examine what happens when someone has a violent outburst in a domestic environment, however brief. With violence at home so taboo nowadays, this flash is both shocking and dramatic, with the intended contrast to the benign domesticity suitably gasp-inducing when it eventually shatters the peace. Previously, we see that these characters are deeply connected on both a physical and spiritual level, with a deeply frank portrait of all aspects of their intimacy. But when this dark side to one of their characters reveals itself, it threatens to undermine everything they had previously built. Exciting though this moment is, it is only brief in a long film that plods along at a snail's pace. With long shots of the cat exploring the garden, observational sequences of the workings of their orchestra and elongated moments of pained silence between the couple in their home, it is severely lacking in pace and neither character is engaging enough to command the screen for such long periods of time. And though Stefan's repressed violent nature is clearly under the microscope, the film fails to ever really make us understand the root of his anger. Instead, the film frames his anger like a monster, cutting back and forth between his placid face and the people and animals depicted now as vulnerable. The titular cat is central to the plot, but the title's German translation also refers to a hangover, referring implicitly to the characters sufferance of the consequences of their actions. But regardless of all its intentions, its pace drags all its themes behind it as though they are subsidiary to character studies of two boring men. And a cat. Those tuning in for the cat will be traumatised of course, but those tuning in for the drama will be anaesthetised and bored. With its story actually quite interesting, a ruthless editor is all that would have been needed to turn this into a fantastic film.


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