Thursday, 19 February 2015

BERLIN FILM FESTIVAL: The Money Complex/ Der Geldkomplex (2015)

This short review appeared on The Upcoming here.

It is hard to know what to think about a film like Der Geldkomplex (I am assuming the English translation – The Money Complex – isn’t a particularly good one), largely because it isn’t very clear.

The film begins with a man being coached in how to ask for money in German. The household needs money, but they don’t seem that bothered about getting any. They lounge around in what is presumably a holiday home and avoid doing anything too laborious. It becomes increasingly clear that they may be bankrupt.

Der Geldkomplex is intriguingly odd to start with, but halfway through it becomes clear that it hasn’t explained anything. The film offers no explanations and the viewer will have no way to understand what is going on in the film – if, indeed, anything is. This isn’t helped by the film’s absurdist streak, which finds room for a woman’s extended (and rather good) impression of a chicken.

At first, it seemed that the film was about the decadent rich – the world is collapsing around their ears and they are still too idle and removed to notice. But that doesn’t quite fit with the films opening quotation from Lenin about the fact that the banks helped foster socialism. There doesn’t seem to be much socialism going on in the film – though maybe the characters here are avoiding society because they think it has a corrupting influence. Hence, the lack of action is in fact meant to be suggesting that there isn’t a lot one can do in a world that one finds shameful.

Maybe. At one point, it does set up a dichotomy between love and money, suggesting again that living properly in this capitalist world is difficult and unfulfilling. Fair enough, but couldn’t this point have been made with a little more humanism. The point isn’t helped by the fact that the film’s characters, or political outsiders if that is what they are, are clearly more privileged than most. Surely a film from the perspective of the working poor would be more valuable, though that is assuming that this film intended to address these debates about capitalism and recession and our way of life in any real way.

Juan Rodrigáñez, whose directorial debut this is, has crafted an intermittently amusing but wholly vague film. It seems to have a political message, but it isn’t particularly clear what it is.

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