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  • Writer's pictureBen Turner

Label Me ***

Starring: Nikolaus Benda, Renato Schuh

Director: Kai Kreuser

Country: Germany

In this new German movie available on Dekkoo, Waseem (Schuh) is a straight Syrian refugee who builds an unusual relationship with Lars (Benda), who pays him for sex. What starts out as wholly transactional builds to something much more as the two form a non-verbal understanding.

Waseem is a strong and powerful man who is disgusted with the life he now leads in a shelter. His dalliance with the sex trade is wholly opportunistic, but even though everything he does with Lars leads to payment, the rapport that they build is far greater than that. They are profoundly different from each other, which leads to – and then becomes a symptom of – their fascination with each other. Waseem’s “no kissing” and “no passivity” rule is what allows him to feel his sexuality isn’t in jeopardy, but this is of course tested as they become closer.

This is both an interesting narrative about masculinity and a deconstruction of identity. For Waseem, these are inexorably intertwined but are subsequently beginning to unpick themselves; a process he finds unnerving and threatening. With outbursts that display the real vulnerability he harbours, we see the real fear in his heart. He says that he was never afraid to cross the Mediterranean in a tiny boat, but going into a gay sauna terrifies him.

A movie with a slight runtime but massive ideas, this is a piece that actually suffers from being too short. Schuh is outstanding as Waseem and you’ll learn to love their weirdly dysfunctional chalk-and-cheese relationship.


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