Unattractive visuals are just one of the pic's problems, which also include unsympathetic characters and a Swiss idea of grunge that, well, just doesn't feel that edgy.

A gay rapper on the verge of cracking up is pushed over the edge when his older impresario/b.f. starts promoting his teen brother in Jan Gassmann’s muddy-in-all-senses feature debut “Off Beat.” Unattractive visuals are just one of the pic’s problems, which also include unsympathetic characters and a Swiss idea of grunge that, well, just doesn’t feel that edgy. Gassmann’s docu background perhaps explains the lack of script, but not the confused editing. Novelty aspect of pairing “gay” with “rap” in a non-homophobic way ensures a modest whirl around the queer fest dance floor.

Rap producer Mischa (Domenico Pecoraio) is in a secret 10-year relationship with performer Lukas (Hans-Jakob Muehlethaler), but Lukas is spiraling out of control on drugs (partly supplied by Mischa’s impressive indoor pot garden) and the fear that he’s past his prime. Lukas’ pimply-faced brother Sami (Manuel Neuburger), sporting the less-than-bitchin’ moniker “Samsonite,” is eager to supplant his sibling, arousing Mischa’s pedophilia. Gassmann seems incapable of sustaining a scene or of keeping two people in the same frame for any length of time. Low-level lighting makes it seem as if a bulb died in the projector.

Off Beat

Switzerland

Production

A Look Now! release (in Switzerland) of a Diagonal production. (International sales: LevelK, Frederiksberg, Denmark.) Produced by Thomas Joerg. Directed by Jan Gassmann. Screenplay, Gassmann, Max Fey.

Crew

Camera (color), Ramon Giger; editors, Fey, Gassmann; music, Hans-Jakob Muehlethaler, Kwest, Jonas Leuenberger; production designers, Nina Staub, Salome Raetz; costume designer, Anne Weick. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Panorama), Feb. 18, 2011. Running time: 95 MIN.

With

Hans-Jakob Muehlethaler, Domenico Pecoraio, Manuel Neuburger, Marlise Fischer, Vesna-Maria Garstick, Alexander Wildi, Cynthia Coray, Julian Martin, Antonio Giello, Johannes Just. (Swiss-German dialogue)

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