'My Prince. My King.'

An intriguing first feature finds a troubled youth accidentally crossing paths with his childhood mentor/sexual abuser.

An intriguing first feature for director Ciril Braem Tscheligi and thesp-turned-scenarist Thomas Huber, “My Prince. My King.” finds a troubled youth accidentally crossing paths with his childhood mentor/sexual abuser. Stopping just as the two finally confront one another, this drama is stronger in mood and craftsmanship than in fully developed character or narrative arcs. Results are far from completely satisfying, but nonetheless cast a spell, suggesting minor commercial prospects but a promising future for the pic’s key collaborators.

Ritch (Johannes Moss) is an angry young man who appears to be homeless, rarely checking in with his mother (Michaela Wiebusch), who like him has never really recovered from the shock of his victimization by a once-trusted family friend. Said friend, Mike (Dale Rapley), having served his prison sentence, now works at a boxing gym run by pal Yusef (Oktay Khan), whose son he also tutors in English.

When Ritch shows up one day to work out some rage in the ring, both he and Mike are shaken to see one another for the first time in a decade. Ritch begins stalking his erstwhile abuser, while Mike is tormented anew by desires he thought he’d expunged. Yusef notices their behavior growing more erratic, and when each finally asks Yusef for the other’s phone number, their secret past is exposed to the appalled intermediary.

Attraction/repulsion between the two principals — whose original relationship maintained a supportive father-and-son-like aspect even as it descended into pederasty — now escalates until a meeting becomes inevitable. This climactic scene is tense with potential violence. But since the characters’ psyches are more atmospherically evoked — notably via unsettling dream sequences — than explored in detail, the fade-out arrives with too little explained and an insufficient sense of catharsis.

Still, Tscheligi and Huber accomplish quite a bit with minimal dialogue and modest production means. Perfs are committed, and design contributions very good, highlighted by Niclas Reed Middleton’s handsome widescreen photography.

My Prince. My King.

Germany

Production

An Anna Wendt Film Production in association with HFF Konrad Wolf and Kinderfilm. (International sales: Kinderfilm, Berlin.) Produced by Anna Wendt. Directed by Ciril Braem Tscheligi. Screenplay, Thomas Huber.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Niclas Reed Middleton; editor, Janine Dauterich; music, Johannes Malfatti; production designer, Sabrina Barteleit; costume designer, Jessica Braun; sound (Dolby Digital/THX), Rainer Dawon, James Michael Griffin; sound designer, Benno Belke; assistant director, Bahar Ebrahim. Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival (Focus on World Cinema), Aug. 23, 2011. Running time: 78 MIN.

With

Johannes Moss, Dale Rapley, Oktay Khan, Tilman Wiegers, Alexander Schroder, Michaela Wiebusch. (German, English dialogue)

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