Starring: Thomas Prenn, Noah Saavedra, Josef Mohamed, Kida Khodr Ramadan
Director: Evi Romen
Dancer Mario (Prenn) lives in a small mountain town in rural Austria, where he works at a local hotel. In a community where everyone knows everything about everyone, he is slipping into depression and addiction because he feels he will never be able to escape. His best friend Lenz (Saavedra) secretly takes him to a gay bar near Rome one evening, but tragedy strikes when a militant extremist opens fire in the bar, shooting Lenz and countless others. When Mario returns to his home unscathed, questions abound about how he survived and Lenz didn’t.
The film goes to great lengths to depict the normalcy of Mario’s life both before and after the attack and though the sequence at the club is a pump of adrenaline midway through, the film unfortunately plods through the mire of his misery at an infuriatingly slow pace. This could have been a very effective film about the grief of a small community in the wake of terrorism – the film is incredibly reminiscent of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, after all – but instead it focuses squarely on Mario’s story, a largely dislikeable character.
There are some great little scenes in the cable cars that are the only access in and out of their town, with hostile villagers claustrophobically confined in a glass box with Mario, giving their uncomfortable opinions about what happened. After he converts to Islam after trying to find answers through his Muslim friend Nadim (Mohamed) and his imam (Ramadan), his neighbours are angry and bewildered that he is embracing the culture they feel is responsible for Lenz’s murder. The narrative provides some interesting commentary on the scapegoating of all Islam for fundamentalist terrorism, but it doesn’t really save a film that is otherwise a miserable trudge through the thawing snow of the Austrian Alps.
OUT NOW TO WATCH ON DEKKOO, RELEASED BY TLA RELEASING.