In with the New

Charitable viewers may be inclined to read "In With the New" as a searing examination of male-female relationships among Gen-Xers in the late '90s. Those with less time on their hands will dismiss it as an occasionally wacky but mostly self-indulgent rantfest about two young Berliners who spend the New Year emotionally abusing each other in a variety of locations. Audiences for this much-ado-about-nothing low-budgeter look limited to the fest faithful.

Charitable viewers may be inclined to read “In With the New” as a searing examination of male-female relationships among Gen-Xers in the late ’90s. Those with less time on their hands will dismiss it as an occasionally wacky but mostly self-indulgent rantfest about two young Berliners who spend the New Year emotionally abusing each other in a variety of locations. Audiences for this much-ado-about-nothing low-budgeter look limited to the fest faithful.

Romeo (Rolf Peter Kahl), a professional photographer, and his girlfriend, Julia (Marie Zielcke), have a tempestuous relationship centered on screaming matches and frantic bouts of sex. When Romeo gets jealous after a friend pays Julia too much attention, the pair decide to go off to Warsaw to patch up their differences. Nothing of the kind happens: Romeo forces Julia to perform in a peepshow for him, and even on the train back the pair are still going at it like wild animals.

Pic is very Berlin-centric in its rough humor and raw emotions, and though it rarely drags for most of its length thanks to the sheer energy of the performances, there’s a growing sense from the halfway point that this is a movie headed nowhere. The highly photogenic, clear-eyed Zielcke brings some luster to her sex-machine role, and Kahl (who also co-produced) is perfect as her ranting, sex-obsessed partner. But 86 minutes in their company is at least an hour too long. “Silvester” in the original title refers to the German New Year.

In with the New

(GERMAN)

Production: An Erdbeermund Film production, in association with Turner & Tailor/Cine Impuls. (International sales: Erdbeermund, Berlin.) Produced by Rolf Peter Kahl, Oskar Roehler. Directed, written by Oskar Roehler.

Crew: Camera (color), Lorenz Haarmann; editor, Christine Boock; music, Dieter Webel, George Brasch; art direction, Denise Dachsel, Katia Fouquet; sound, Heino Herrenbrueck. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Contemporary World Cinema), Sept. 13, 1997. Running time: 86 MIN.

With: With: Rolf Peter Kahl, Marie Zielcke, Robert Victor Minich, Laura Tonke, Doreen Jacobi.

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