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Der böse Onkel (The Wicked Uncle) ***

Armin (Jörg-Heinrich Benthien) is the sport instructor in a small Swiss village. Trix Brunner (Miriam Japp) moves to the village with her teenaged daughter Saskia (Paula Schramm). Soon, Trix suspects that Armin sexually molests his female students. She goes to the authorities but they protect Armin; after all he is the pride of the place, having participated in the Olympics in his youth.

Adapted from the play of the same title, both play and film are written and directed by Urs Odermatt. The plot is not important. After all, for the first ten minutes, you think you are in the wrong film and, in the end, you wonder if you were actually in a film or an art installation. Once you’ve accepted that you may never quite follow the action, you can lean back and enjoy the acting: the biting remarks, the so-called innocence of young girls, the inappropriateness of people in power, the bulldog courage of a mother who refuses to back down – all in a staccato tempo and a German which you might even understand, considering that it’s Switzerland, but the language isn’t exactly Swiss-German. Often the actors sound like they are reciting some kind of modern poetry. “Gruß Gott. Ja, wenn ich ihn sehe.” “Love is like small change: you pay and it’s never enough.”

If you are up for something different, try this film. If nothing else, you’ll see a muscular, bald-headed man play the guitar while totally naked in the shower. How often do you have that opportunity? I am curious how it worked on stage. Director Urs Odermatt has been successful in German theater since 1993. He has been filming since 1985, not only for the cinema, but also for television with high prestige shows such as Tatort and Polizeiruf 110. (Becky Tan)

Starts November 22

Original language: German

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