'Initiation'

An older man finds resemblance between a teen on the neo-Nazi fringes and the lover he betrayed.

An older gay man is struck by the resemblance between a conflicted teen on the neo-Nazi fringes and the lover he betrayed back in his Hitler Youth days in cult figure Peter Kern’s kitschy, screamingly ill-conceived piece of nonsense, “Initiation.” Putting aside the ham-fisted Nazi-era re-creations, clumsy editing and poor staging, the helmer can’t muster the combination of raw emotion and camp luridness he witnessed in his years thesping for Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Star Helmut Berger will draw in some devotees, but even most gay fest auds will pass.

Difficulties at home send teen Axel (Harry Lampl) into the orbit of violent neo-Nazis, though all he really wants is a spliff. Following a bungled initiation in which he stabs a social worker, Axel stumbles into the house of dry cleaner Gustav (Berger), who immediately has flashbacks to his long-lost love, Hannes (Valentin Frais). Will Axel fall into skinhead clutches or become part of Gustav’s inner circle? One ludicrous scene follows another, including truncated musical numbers that never take off. Berger mostly looks blank or glassy-eyed, and it’s impossible to tell whether eye-catching Lampl has an acting career ahead.

Initiation

Austria

Production

An EastWest Film distribution presentation of a Novotny & Novotny Filmproduktion production. (International sales: EastWest, Vienna.) Produced by Die Katze Farkas, in cooperation with Peter Kern. Directed, written by Peter Kern, from an idea of Frank Maria Reifenberg.

Crew

Camera (color), Peter Roehsler; editor, Petra Zobnek; music, Boris Fiala, Andreas Hamza; production designer, Hannes Salat; costume designer, Maurizio Giambra. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Panorama), Feb. 13, 2010. Original title: Blutsfreundschaft. Running time: 94 MIN.

With

Helmut Berger, Harry Lampl, Melanie Kretschmann, Michael Steinocher, Manuel Rubey, Matthias Franz Stein, Oliver Rosskopf, Heribert Sasse, Gregor Seberg, Lukas Perman, Marvin Filipp, Valentin Frais, Stefan Bachmann, Paul Matic, Traute Furthner, Jazz Gitti.

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