Review: ‘Birthday’

There's nothing much to celebrate in debuting helmer Stefan Jager's "Birthday," the latest in a string of ill-conceived and poorly executed digital video improvisations being trumpeted as fully developed films.

There’s nothing much to celebrate in debuting helmer Stefan Jager’s “Birthday,” the latest in a string of ill-conceived and poorly executed digital video improvisations being trumpeted as fully developed films. Tale of four narcissistic and histrionic German pals who meet after a voluntary eight-year estrangement to celebrate each of their 30th birthdays may have one or two parties domestically but won’t eat cake elsewhere and will age poorly.

Arriving for the last of four parties at the flat of Bibiana (Bibiana Beglau, from “The Legends of Rita”) are friends Tamara (Tamara Simunovic), Claudio (Claudio Cailo) and Harald (Harald Koch). They discover their hostess has overdosed on pills, which forces the pregnant Tamara into labor and prompts a mad dash across town to hospital by foot, subway and commandeered van. Pic then intercuts previous celebrations, revealing Bibiana as mysteriously troubled, Harald a quiet bisexual, Claudio a hotheaded fool and Tamara a smiling cipher. “Our friendship is like a little world,” proclaims one, which makes pic a poor advertisement for interplanetary travel. Tech credits are minimal, with more than a few excruciatingly long takes.

Birthday

Germany

Production

A Naked Eye production. (International sales: Peppermint, Munich.) Produced by Sabine Lamby, Giulio Ricciarelli. Directed, written by Stefan Jager.

Crew

Camera (color, DV to 35mm), Stefan Runge, Knut Schmitz; editors, Nicholas Goodwin, Oliver Keidel; music, Angelo Berardi. Reviewed at Karlovy Vary Film Festival (competing), June 10, 2001. Running time: 96 MIN.

With

Bibiana Beglau, Tamara Simunovic, Claudio Cailo, Harald Koch.
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