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The Crack Magazine



Director: Ulrich Seidl

Stars: Michael Thomas, Tessa Göttlicher, Hans-Michael Rehberg, Inge Maux

Writer-director Seidl’s latest picture is a comparatively lighter affair than his standard grim depictions of the wretched and the dammed. The excellent Austrian actor Michael Thomas is Richie Bravo, a down-at-heel lounge singer who performs his corny ballads to a dwindling collection of ageing fans in drab hotels during off-season in the Italian coastal town of Rimini. Despite the meagre set-up (just a backing tape) Richie, ever the pro and still in good voice, gives it his all while trading flirty banter with his adoring female fans. To make more money, he doubles up as a gigolo with the more amorous of his flock and charges them for sex, a job he seems just as invested in as his singing. His cheerfully hardscrabble life is upended by the arrival of an estranged adult daughter Tessa (Göttlicher), demanding money, causing Richie to question his behaviour. Cinematographer Wolfgang Thaler’s rendering of the foggy, overcast and semi-deserted coastal resort means that Rimini rivals any off-season UK seaside town for life-sapping desolation. Thomas, his bearish appearance augmented by a long sealskin coat, and sporting cowboy boots and blonde highlights, is wonderful as the seemingly indefatigable but deeply flawed protagonist, at once charming, but able to generate huge pathos, even when Richie is at his most compromised. The original songs are perfect pastiches of cheesy euro ballads and Thomas, an excellent singer, delivers them with stirring gusto.

David Willoughby

Follow David on Twitter @DWill_Crackfilm