Review: ‘Happiness is a Warm Gun’

Political activism is never more trivialized than in "Happiness Is a Warm Gun," a teasingly titled Swiss indie by maverick filmmaker Thomas Imbach that reduces the lives of German "Green queen" Petra Kelly and her lover Gert Bastian to a series of childish games and domestic spats.

Political activism is never more trivialized than in “Happiness Is a Warm Gun,” a teasingly titled Swiss indie by maverick filmmaker Thomas Imbach that reduces the lives of German “Green queen” Petra Kelly and her lover Gert Bastian to a series of childish games and domestic spats. Imbach’s following may garner this some attention in German-speaking Switzerland, but pic looks headed for nowheresville beyond the Alps.

A high-profile Green pol in the ’80s, Kelly died in ’92, shot by Bastian who then turned the gun on himself; their bodies were found 19 days later and their deaths have never been explained. Pic starts at the moment the bullet enters Kelly’s brain and flash-forwards to the present where Kelly and Bastian find themselves in the eternity of an airport transit zone, reliving elements of their life. Bastian, especially, is portrayed as a pathetic loser, worshipping the driven Kelly and showing a comic obsession with weaponry. TV footage of the real characters only emphasizes that Imbach lacks anything to say. Transfer from DV to 35mm is OK.

Happiness is a Warm Gun

Switzerland

Production

A Vega Distribution release of a Bachim Film production, in association with ZDF and SFDRS. (International sales: Vega, Zurich.) Produced by Thomas Imbach. Co-producers, Lucas Schmidt, Susann Wach Rozsa. Directed by Thomas Imbach. Screenplay, Imbach, Peter Purtschert, Juerg Hassler.

Crew

Camera (color, DV-to-35mm), Hassler, Imbach; editors, Imbach, Hassler; music, Sir Henry, Peter Braeker; costume designer, Monika Schmid. Reviewed at Locarno Film Festival (competing), Aug. 8, 2001. German dialogue. Running time: 92 MIN.

With

Linda Olsansky, Herbert Fritsch, Angelika Waller, Sir Henry, Ingrid Sattes, Stefan-Hyun Wanner, Serge Assongmo Tessa.
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