This funny, low-budget romantic comedy was Austria's top locally produced film of 1995 and should do relatively well in Germany and some other countries this year. Though it's not a film that would typically travel well, the humor makes it accessible and entertaining.

This funny, low-budget romantic comedy was Austria’s top locally produced film of 1995 and should do relatively well in Germany and some other countries this year. Though it’s not a film that would typically travel well, the humor makes it accessible and entertaining.

The plot is as simple as the execution: Henny (Elfi Eschke) backs out of a marriage to the strait-laced son of the arrogant top dog in a small town and flees to see the world. Because she can’t pay the bills in the Vienna hotel she checks into, she decides to seduce some rich guy. Instead, she meets and falls in love with henpecked underdog Siegfried (Andreas Vitasek), who’s saddled with a wife who constantly accuses him of cheating on her and whose family he can’t stand.

The characters provide the humor. Though the performances don’t immediately come across as polished, the actors bring a lot of personality to the screen, and it’s hard not to love them. More important, director-writer Reinhard Schwabenitzky, responsible for a number of Austrian and German hits, injects his dialogue with wit and his characters with generous dollops of oddball outlandishness.

Plump, nice-girl Eschke is lovable, and so is her character’s rather muddled goal: She doesn’t know what she wants, only what she doesn’t want — to marry and be saddled with a small town and small-town in-laws. Though Eschke’s spin on a femme fatale isn’t quite convincing, her wonderful screen presence brings this film close to being an Austrian “Muriel’s Wedding.”

Technical credits are professional — particularly Walter Kindler’s camera — but often too routine, as in the production design by Fritz Hollergschwandter. Film comes across as a professionally made and inspired quick shot, cheap but with more fun than gloss.

An Almost Perfect Affair

(AUSTRIAN)

Production

A Star-Film production, in association with ORF, DREFA and epo-Film. Produced by Reinhard Schwabenitzky, Guenter Degn. Directed, written by Reinhard Schwabenitzky.

Crew

Camera (color), Walter Kindler; editor, Ingrid Koller; music, Arthur Lauber, Friedemann Katt; production design, Fritz Hollergschwandter; costume design, Erika Navas; sound (Dolby SR), Walter Fiklocki; line producer, Alfred Ebinger. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (market), Feb. 20, 1996. Running time: 102 MIN.

With

Henny Schoenberg ... Elfi Eschke Sigi Hirnschroth ... Andreas Vitasek Renate Hirnschroth ... Claudia Kment Julia Hirnschroth ... Nicola Etzelstorfer Grandpa Hirnschroth ... Heinz Peters Mother Hirnschroth ... Kitty Speiser Father Hirnschroth ... Ernst Konarek Martin von Plath ... Sebastian Koch Henny's Father ... Hans Clarin
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