A low-budget naturalistic drama about a disintegrating family, "Losing Balance" lives up to its title by not knowing how to resolve itself except through increasingly unbelievable melodrama.

A low-budget naturalistic drama about a disintegrating family, “Losing Balance” lives up to its title by not knowing how to resolve itself except through increasingly unbelievable melodrama. First full-length feature by Felix Fuchssteiner, which won the Young German Cinema Award at the 2009 Munich fest, shows a measure of observational skill through at least the first half as it charts a family spinning apart and mostly downward, but wan video look and unrealistic plotting will seriously limit international fest play and commercial prospects outside Deutsch-speaking lands.

Undistinguished but for the good looks of its teen girls, the Borowski clan lives in a modest city apartment and vacations lakeside with other middle-aged sausage and beer lovers. Foxy Caro (Sina Tkotsch) is already boy-hungry, while Jessika (Elisa Schlott) fills her journal with scientific and philosophical tidbits. But after their self-styled cowboy dad (Michael Lott) loses his job and once-hot, now-obese mom (Petra Kleinert) goes bonkers in the messy aftermath of a secret pregnancy, the girls must decide how to get on with their lives, if at all. Dramatically engaging for a while, pic has no clue how to use video to advantage.

Losing Balance

Production

A Mem-Film production. Produced by Katharina Schoede. Directed by Felix Fuchssteiner. Screenplay, Fuchssteiner, Katharina Schoede.

Crew

Camera (color, DV), Matthias Schellenberg; editor, Nicole Kortlueke; music, Philippe F. Kolmel. Reviewed at Santa Barbara Film Festival, Feb. 13, 2010. (Also in 2009 Munich Film Festival.) Original title: Draussen am See. Running time: 104 MIN.

With

Petra Kleinert, Michael Lott, Elisa Schlott, Sina Tkotsch, Benjamin Trinks.
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