Swiss maverick Thomas Imbach, who trivialized the life of German “Green queen” Petra Kelly in “Happiness Is a Warm Gun,” now trivializes the work of Georg Buechner, 19th-century German poet of madness and melancholy, in “Lenz.” Contempo story, inspired by Buechner’s narrative text about a tortured soul, skirts Werner Herzog territory, with a wide-eyed lead perf by Milan Peschel that recalls the late Klaus Kinski. But despite some agreeable satire of moneyed Swiss habits, this is thin fare, for fests only.
Crazed helmer Lenz (Peschel) is having problems shooting a film with his actress, Tanja (Barbara Heynen). Seized with a desire to see his estranged wife, Natalie (Barbara Maurer), and their young son, Noah (Noah Gsell), Lenz takes off to meet them at the ski resort of Zermatt in the Swiss Alps. Maurer brings a serene dignity to her role, but it’s Peschel who swamps the pic with his infantile, emotionally needy character. Camerawork is in-your-face; Alpine vistas are easier on the eye.