Review: ‘Whole Train’

Teutonic-Polish co-prod "Whole Train" may have been shot in Munich and Warsaw, but this debut by young German helmer Florian Gaag has an urban flavor redolent of many a U.S.-made pic about disenfranchised gang-bangers making the uneasy transition to manhood.

Teutonic-Polish co-prod “Whole Train” may have been shot in Munich and Warsaw, but this debut by young German helmer Florian Gaag has an urban flavor redolent of many a U.S.-made pic about disenfranchised gang-bangers making the uneasy transition to manhood. Filmed largely with handheld cameras, its soundtrack encrusted with a thick layer of hip-hop tunes, slightly trite but well researched pic could appeal to youthful auds in German-speaking territories and roll into a few fests, but it will require a lot of marketing to get its B.O. engine going offshore.

Munich teenager David (Mike Adler) is the leader of the KSB crew, a gang of graffiti artists who tag subway trains and walls in perpetual competition with their rivals, the ATL posse. KSB’s other members are young father Tino (Florian Renner), second-generation Turk Elyas (Elyas M’Barek), and middle-class newbie Achim (Jacob Matschenz). On probation for vandalism, David considers his parole officer’s suggestion he go straight and attend art college, but gets dragged back into the life by loyalty to his friends. Mostly nonpro cast puts in credible perfs, while the graffiti art’s authentic look comes courtesy of real, collaborating taggers.

Whole Train

Germany-Poland

Production

A Goldkind Film production, in association with ZDF, Mainz Megaherz GmbH, Unterfoering, Aerodynamic Films (Germany)/Yetl Films (Poland). (International sales: Telepool, Munich.) Produced by Sven Burgemeister, Christoph Mueller. Executive producer, Silke Bacher. Directed, written by Florian Gaag.

Crew

Camera (color, 16mm-to-35mm), Christian Rein; editor, Kai Schroeter; music, Jan Weissenfeldt; art director, Heike Lange; costumes, Stefanie Schroster. Reviewed on DVD, London, June 14, 2006. (In Cannes Film Festival -- market; Berlin and UrbanWorld film festivals.) Running time: 85 MIN.

With

Mike Adler, Jacob Matschenz, Elyas M'Barek, Florian Renner.
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