Review: ‘Domenica’

Amateur from the word go, the only thing this biopic from a 12-time director has going for it is the sensationalism associated with the title. "Domenica" is the name of Germany's most famous and most outspoken sadomasochism prostitute/activist, but this is less her story than a trivial, insightless hagiography. Though the subject will get it some fest play, neither audience nor makers will profit.

Amateur from the word go, the only thing this biopic from a 12-time director has going for it is the sensationalism associated with the title. “Domenica” is the name of Germany’s most famous and most outspoken sadomasochism prostitute/activist, but this is less her story than a trivial, insightless hagiography. Though the subject will get it some fest play, neither audience nor makers will profit.

With her activism over prostitutes’ rights, and with her amazing reputation (she was one of the major factors in making S&M trendy in Germany), Domenica is a fascinating personality. But director/writer Peter Kern doesn’t explore his subject, he merely makes use of it, pushing his view of her as noble victim.

Domenica plays herself as an adult and in parts breaks into docu-style monologues. But the film never gives any in-depth account of the world in which she lived.

As Domenica’s mother, Andrea Ferreol bounces happily through, but her non-committal attitude suggests that she knows her character isn’t round enough to warrant a proper investment of her talent. Other perfs are fairly amateur, including Nicolette Krebitz as a young Domenica. Only exception is Hans Michael Rehberg, who plays Domenica’s tasteless, jet-set pimp with a hollow-eyed, decadent intensity that is genuinely scary.

Technical credits are above-average at times.

Domenica

Production

A Corazon Film production, in association with Lisa Film/Cine Images. Produced by Axel Glittenberg. Directed, written by Peter Kern.

Crew

Camera (color), Manfred Scheer; editor, Helga Borsche; music, Iwan Harlan; production design, Uli Hanisch; art direction, Nicola Schudy; costume design, Tabea Braun; sound, Michael Felber; makeup, Heidi Hass; assistant director, Herms Mueller. Reviewed at Hof Film Festival, Hof, Germany, Oct. 28, 1993. (Also in Rotterdam, Chicago, Sao Paulo fests.) Running time: 92 MIN.

With

With: Andrea Ferreol, Sandra Molik, Nicolette Krebitz, Domenica Niehoff, Rita Lengyal, Hans Michael Rehberg, Karina Fallenstein, Max Kellermann, Wolf Dieter Sprenger, Christoph Schlingensief, Juergen Vogel.
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