Neil Young’s Film Lounge – Bungalow
Germany 2002 : Ulrich Koehler : 84 mins
Disillusioned by the adult world in general and the military in particular, 19-year-old Paul (Lennie Burmeister) deserts, heading home to his parents ’ bungalow in Marburg-Lahn, a small town in southern Germany. His attempts to mull over his future, Holden Caulfield style, are disrupted by the arrival of his brother Max (Devid Striesow) and his Danish girlfriend Lene (Festen ’s Trine Dyrholm), whose allure proves too much to resist for the alienated teenager …
Bungalow may share some of its zonked-out, uninflected unpredictability with Jessica Hausner ’s Lovely Rita – another tale of alienated mid-European youth – but there ’s much more humour along the way, and the final destination is, refreshingly, nowhere near as bleak. An added twist is that the town is being targeted by a mysterious bombing campaign, perhaps politically motivated – although, as somone remarks, “Capitalism has no more natural enemies. ”
A less confident director may have got himself entangled by this potentially ‘sexy ’ subplot, but Koehler wisely keeps it enigmatically in the background as he sketches in his home town ’s dog-days atmosphere with the eye of someone glad to have escaped its stifling confines. His control is impressively, assured, right up to a final shot – presumably a nod to Five Easy Pieces – which shows the maturity and/or nerve to leave Paul ’s ultimate fate in the mind of the beholder.
By this point, each viewer should have sufficient evidence to form a pretty definite opinion – Paul isn ’t the most communicative of characters, but Koehler and co-writer Henrike Goetz provide plenty of commentary on the prevailing mental torpor by making Lene an actress preparing for a forthcoming sci-fi epic: “I ’m an extraterrestrial who doesn ’t understand anything, ” she says, “I have hardly any lines. ” “So how are people in the future? ” asks Paul. “More or less like today. Sad. ”
A striking debut.
1st March 2002
(seen 7th Feb 02, Berlin Film Festival)
by Neil Young