Review: ‘Coma’

A taxi driver leaves his wife and son to find the woman he nearly killed years before.

A taxi driver leaves his wife and son to find the woman he nearly killed years before in the deliberately provocative low-budget drama “Coma,” the feature debut of Austrian writer-helmer Ludwig Wuest. Playing like wannabe Michael Haneke or Ulrich Seidl, and full of implausibilities, the narrative — involving S&M practices captured on video — slowly unfolds in long static shots full of off-camera sounds. Unpleasant niche fest item could wind up on a fetish website not unlike the one frequented by some of the film’s characters.

Apparently motivated by his 50th birthday, Hans (Nenad Smigoc) decides to go look for Gertrud (Claudia Martini), a prostitute he practically beat to death on camera. Meanwhile, his uptight wife (Roswitha Soukup) presides over a birthday picnic Hans doesn’t attend. When son Daniel (Stefan Mannsberger) accidentally leaves a downloaded snuff film near Dad’s gift pile, Mom wraps it up. No points for guessing said film’s protagonists. A welcome dose of humor comes from the chatty hooker (Anke Armandi) who unwittingly leads Hans to Gertrud’s nursing home; the conclusion continues the helmer’s intent to epater les bourgeois. Adequate tech credits contrast grimy interiors with spectacular outdoors shots.

Coma

Austria

Production

A Film Pla.net production. Produced by Ludwig Wuest. Executive producer, Matthias Pazmandy. Directed, written by Ludwig Wuest.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Klemens Koscher; editor, Samuel Kappeli; music, Hans Klestorfer. Reviewed on DVD, Chicago, November 24, 2009. (In Reykjavik Film Festival -- competing.) Original title: Koma. Running time: 82 MIN.

With

Nenad Smigoc, Claudia Martini, Roswitha Soukup, Stefan Mannsberger, Anke Armandi.
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