19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Gritty, fascinating, and why we watch foreign movies
, March 12, 2003
This review is from: Taxi Zum Klo (DVD)
Frank Ripploh's largely autobiographical film takes two fairly schematic themes -- boy meets boy and all that that entails; and man deals with utter dislocation between job and private life -- and turns them into a fascinating look at a modern Germany that just as easily could be Taipei (think Ang Lee) or Rome (think Vittorio de Sica).
Frank is an elementary school teacher by day, and a sexual adventurer any time he is NOT at school. On one of his forays into the demimonde, he meets Bernd (played by the very appealing Bernd Broaderup) and falls in love. What follows is fairly typical of any love story, but it is in the details that Ripploh takes his audience into another world. Frank's love story is punctuated by sexual escapades that would have horrified Jane Austen. Added to this, Frank must come to terms with the increasing tension between his respectable job and his not so respectable but very exciting sex life. How Frank resolves this tension is simultaneously amusing and horrifying.
This film is not for prudes or the squeamish. The sex scenes are graphic and sometimes hard to watch. Also, it is obvious that the film was cheaply made, with gritty camera work and spotty sound quality. Still, the details draw the viewer in; you actually see how these people live (and where else do you see an old Karmann Ghia these days?). It is also eerie to see such lack of sexual restraint in a world on the brink of the HIV horror (Taxi zum Klo was released in 1981).
I was fascinated with this film in 1981 and I remain so in 2003. The only reason I gave this movie 3 stars instead of 4 is that the subtitles have an annoying tendency to disappear into the scenery. A passing familiarity with German would help fill in some of the gaps in legibility, but you will probably need several viewings to get all the plot points.
One comes away from this movie with feelings that only foreign films can provide. While Ripploh is no Kurosawa, de Sica, or Inagaki, he equals them in taking you to another world.
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