Ternitz Tennessee

The grotesque charm of Mirjam Unger's "Ternitz Tennessee" lies in its uncomplicated approach to its two young heroines from the Austrian provinces, whose naive daydreams about living in America and meeting celebrities are tempered by their appealing kookiness and down-to-earth attitude toward men.

With:
Lili - Nina Proll Betty - Sonja Romei El Bresli - Gerald Votava

The grotesque charm of “Ternitz Tennessee” lies in its uncomplicated approach to its two young heroines from the Austrian provinces, whose naive daydreams about living in America and meeting celebrities are tempered by their appealing kookiness and down-to-earth attitude toward men. Tyro helmer Mirjam Unger demonstrates good control over her thesps in this character-driven film, which combines familiar elements like an Elvis Presley look-alike with sharp, original observations. Result may be minor in commercial terms outside Austria, but pic is a notch above many of the new Euro indies.

Humorously mismatched best friends Lili (Nina Proll), a sturdy garage mechanic, and Betty (Sonja Romei), a diminutive dog beautician, share an infatuation with the U.S. When “El Bresli” (Gerald Votava) comes to town with his tacky road show, Betty wins an evening with Elvis and Lili falls for his muscular American roadie. Pic builds up an enjoyably farcical atmosphere, while it cleverly refers back to realistic working class situations, like Betty’s alcoholic mom, to meaningfully ground the girls’ fantasy. Proll and Romei swim in their element here, and their lively perfs, along with film’s high-octane music track, keep the film hopping.

Ternitz Tennessee

Austria

Production: A Thalia Film production. (International sales: Thalia Film, Vienna.) Directed by Mirjam Unger. Screenplay by Manfred Rebhandl.

Crew: Camera (color), Jurgen Jurges; editor, Karina Ressler; music, Christof Kurzmann, Fritz Ostermayer; production designer, Mona Quintus. Reviewed at Rotterdam Film Festival (competing), Jan. 25, 2001. Running time: 80 MIN.

With: Lili - Nina Proll Betty - Sonja Romei El Bresli - Gerald VotavaWith: Clemens Haipl, Birgit Doll.

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