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A Girl Called Rosemarie

A Girl Called Rosemarie," German mega-producer Bernd Eichinger's first helming stint since his student days, is a generally respectable, occasionally imaginative period drama that could get some fest play on the strength of his name but is more likely to end up on the small screen, for which it was made. Good production values and solid performances keep this story of an ambitious social climber in '50s Germany ticking, without ever creating major sparks. As a producer, Eichinger worked with many of the major names of German film of the '70s - Alexander Kluge, Wim Wenders, Edgar Reitz, Uli Edel - before turning to bigger productions in the '80s ("The Neverending Story," "The Name of the Rose," "Last Exit to Brooklyn," "The House of the Spirits" and, recently, "Smilla's Sense of Snow") through his Munich-based company, Constantin Film. His days as a film student date back to 1970-73, and to judge by the present effort, he hasn't forgotten where to place the camera.

With:
Rosemarie Nitribitt..... Nina Hoss Hartog..... Heiner Lauterbach Fribert..... Mathieu Carriere Bruster..... Horst Krause Marga..... Hannelore Elsner Christine..... Katja Flint Nadler..... Til Schweiger Von Oelsen..... Heinrich Schafmeister

Story, based on real-life events, was first filmed by Rolf Thiele in 1958 (released in the U.S. as “Rosemary”), with Nadja Tiller as the Frankfurt femme whose love of fast cars and money led her to bed the great and the good before being murdered in 1957 in her apartment by a never-found assailant. Thiele’s hit B&W movie, made when the real subject’s body was still almost warm, had a socially satirical edge that Eichinger’s more up-and-down version omits.

Rosemarie (Nina Hoss) is introduced in 1952 as a tough young woman who gets out of a remand center by bedding a warden. Two years later, she argues with her foster parents, ups and leaves, and on the way to Frankfurt meets charming petty criminal Nadler (German star Til Schweiger, in a low-key role), with whom she shacks up. Another two years later, the story proper begins, with her working as a bar girl in a cut-rate club, where she hooks wealthy businessman Hartog (Heiner Lauterbach).

After Rosemarie ditches Nadler, Hartog sets her up in an apartment, but she soon gets antsy when he confesses to having a fiancee (Katja Flint) and doesn’t always take her to big social occasions. Then a French magnate, Fribert (Mathieu Carriere), makes her an offer: He’ll give her everything she desires so long as she tape-records all her sack sessions with German higher-ups. The arrangement sows the seeds of her demise.

As the rise and fall of a glorified hooker, the tale is interesting enough, and Hoss, whose looks are not standard cheesecake, makes Rosemarie a cool, brittle character who becomes more engaging as her weaknesses gradually emerge: She’s tolerated but never accepted by Frankfurt’s high society. The film could have used more social backgrounding; Rosemarie’s story was a direct product of Germany’s mid-’50s economic recovery, and there’s no real feel here for the broader atmosphere of the times, with the action (in true telefilm style) mostly limited to interiors and small gatherings.

Occasionally, as in the resonant title sequence showing Hoss alone in a park, and the final society party, Eichinger inserts some stylistic flourishes, lifting the drama to a metaphysical realm that gets inside the character. For most of the time, however, it’s down to the art direction and costume design to keep the eyes occupied while the plot unfolds in due order.

Technical credits are thoroughly pro, and d.p. Gernot Roll’s eye for colors is sharp. Pic, broadcast in December, is one of commercial web SAT-1’s series of four remakes of German film classics.

A Girl Called Rosemarie

German

Production: A Constantin Film production for SAT-1 TV. (International sales: Atlas Intl., Munich.) Produced by Bernd Eichinger, Uschi Reich. Executive producers, Martin Moszkowicz. Directed by Bernd Eichinger. Screenplay, Eichinger, Uwe Wilhelm.

Crew: Camera (color), Gernot Roll; editor, Alex Berner; music, Norbert Schneider; art direction, Harald Turzer, Thomas Freudenthal; costume design, Barbara Baum; sound, Michael Kranz. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (New German Films), Feb. 14, 1997. Running time: 127 MIN.

With: Rosemarie Nitribitt..... Nina Hoss Hartog..... Heiner Lauterbach Fribert..... Mathieu Carriere Bruster..... Horst Krause Marga..... Hannelore Elsner Christine..... Katja Flint Nadler..... Til Schweiger Von Oelsen..... Heinrich Schafmeister

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