OUTFest 2008 Film Review - Fashion Victims (aka Reine Geschmacksache)

"Fashion Victims" directed by Ingo Rasper


Rules of Engagement

Wolfgang Zenker (Edgar Selge) is having a bad day. His horoscope had said so and alas, the forecast for this poor Scorpio was dead on. It should be, considering that his son Karsten (Florian Bartholomäi) is the one writing it. In fact, Wolfgang has been struggling to keep his sales figures up in the ever-changing face of retail fashion. Now disaster seems imminent as the hot chic Grazilla line, introduced by aggressive young sales rep Steven Brookmüller (Roman Knizka), threatens to replace Wolfgang’s more mature, tried and true Goldberg line. And Wolfgang has tickets; four speeding tickets which means he runs the risk of having his brand new S-Class impounded if he is caught driving. Wolfgang has no choice but to cancel Karsten’s vacation in Spain in order for the young man to drive him to all his appointments.

Stuck Hanging with Dad

Karsten is not happy at all. He knows that his parents are having problems. He doesn’t really care. All he wants is his freedom for a little while. His mother Erika (Franziska Walser) recognizes her son’s need to “sow his wild oats, but Wolfgang has already made up his mind. But Karsten’s having to stay home is not a total bust when he meets handsome, brash Steven at the dry cleaners, sent there by his father. The two hit it off immediately. However the couple’s new relationship runs into a major speed bump when Karsten discovers that Steven is his father’s competition. Karsten’s attraction to “the enemy” is compounded by the fact that he has yet to tell his parents that he is gay.

Modeling Ladies Fashions

Complicating domestic issues between Erika and Wolfgang is Brigitti (Traute Hoess), resident man-hating, uber-bitch who can’t wait to take advantage of Wolfgang & Erika’s marital woes. The stakes rise dramatically as the Wolfgang’s secret financial problems grow more and more public, Karsten’s loyalties are tested and both competitors race to sell any products to the same shrinking client list.

Fashion Victims (German title Reine Geschmacksache) is a comedy that focuses a long playful lens upon the thin line between competition and obsession. There's lots of great stuff in this movie such as the universal angst and killer chemistry between the cast members. The film is a fun jaunt into slapstick that gradually escalated to ridiculous, and miraculously, no one gets hurts along the way. And tucked neatly within the film’s near misses, misunderstandings and fits of character frenzy, is a subtle but important lesson about acceptance and recognizing limitations: both your own and of others. This film was not a just a coming of age for our young gay hero; it was a turning point and a coming of age for a family.

It’s always fun to watch a “control freak” as he/she struggles to control their fate and their circumstances, oblivious to the truth that control is an illusion. Oblivious, hopefully, just until the concluding reveal in the third act. Wolfgang should be asking Karsten, because it is his son who best understands the randomness of the universe.

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