OFFICIAL SELECTION 2018
DIRECTOR : Marcel Gilser
COUNTRY : Poland
YEAR : 2018
TIME : 124min
Nu Metro 6, 16 Oct @ 5.30pm | SK Nouveau 5, 14 Oct @ 8.15pm
A young Swiss soccer player has been training very hard but his hopes of professional advancement are complicated by the fact that he falls in love with a fellow player in the — excuse the pun — straightforward drama Mario. Though a tad too protracted, this is again an accessible work that tackles German-speaking Switzerland’s complex attitude toward homosexuality in the vein of some of the earlier work from director Marcel Gisler, such as the crowdpleaser Rosie and the fascinating documentary Electroboy. It caused a minor scandal when it was dropped from the Ecrans Junior program in Cannes, which is aimed at school kids, over objections about its contents, even though it was rated as suitable for “all audiences” in France, where it will be released Aug. 1.
Indeed, there is nothing objectionable about this feature, which is so well acted it managed to take home statues in the best actor and best supporting actress categories at the most recent Swiss Film Awards. Besides Switzerland, Germany and France, this well-made if familiar drama has already sold to several other territories as well, including Arti Film in the Netherlands, Peccadillo in the U.K. and Wolfe Releasing stateside.
Leon (Aaron Altaras) is a striking striker from Hanover, Germany, who is added to the under-21 team of Swiss-German soccer hopeful Mario (Max Hubacher), a young pup who, like his peers, hopes to soon be scouted by a major European soccer team. Leon is dark-haired, olive-skinned and a little mysterious, qualities that the dirty blond and blue-eyed Mario can’t help but notice, especially after they are assigned to share a players’ apartment provided by the club so Leon has a place to live and Mario doesn’t need to travel back to the parental home in rural Switzerland all the time.
Gisler wrote the screenplay with Thomas Hess (Monkey King) and Frederic Moriette, Christian Petzold’s regular script supervisor who here makes his debut as a screenwriter. Their setup is classical — in the sense that the chronologically told story has no surprising twists or unexpected subplots — and also a tad too leisurely. Besides the arrival of Leon, they also take their time to introduce Jenny (Jessy Moravec), Mario’s girlfriend of many years, though only in a purely platonic sense, much to — and no surprise here either — Jenny’s dismay.
ABOUT THE DIRECTOR
Born in 1960 in Altstätten, Switzerland. Since 1981 lives in Berlin. Studied Drama and Philosophy at the Freie Universität Berlin. Since 1985 works as producer, screenwriter, director and as lecturer at various film schools in Switzerland and Germany. 1999 Swiss Film Award, Best Fiction Film for “F. est un salaud”. 2013 Zurich Film Award for “Rosie”. 2015 Swiss film Award, Best Documentary Film for “Electroboy.