The parents of a bullied teen who shoots his tormentor attempt to cover up his crime in the over-plotted, undernourished family thriller “The Other Boy.” Faint echoes of Michael Haneke’s hard-hitting cautionary slugfests are lost in the listless pacing, leaving tube sales the most likely outlet despite Andrea Sawatzki’s surprise actress kudo in Montreal.
Evchen and Winnie Morell (Sawatzki, Peter Lohmeyer) and Sylvie and Jakob Wagner (Barbara Auer, Christian Berkel) live in the same Hamburg suburb and the two men work for the same prefab housing company. The Wagner’s teenage son Paul (Tim Oliver Schultz) is a monstrous punk who goads the Morell’s introverted son Robert (Willi Gerk) to fatal violence. Winnie nervously tries to cover up the crime, even as he fends off Jakob’s office power grab and vigilante tendencies. Cop Bender’s (Hinnerk Schoenemann) early ballistic test on the murder weapon, however, could have rendered pic a short subject. Conceived by helmer Volker Einrauch as the first in a vaguely Dogma-like series of technically no-frills ensemble showcases, pic simultaneously attempts to be an indictment of middle-class competitiveness and of police procedural tension, but becomes mired in both. Tech package is unremarkable.