Berlinale Reviews: ‘Wilde Maus’ takes Polly Trope on a ride

by | indiefilms

If you liked Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel, you might love this.

Vienna. A famous journalist specializing in classical concert critique is fired from his job of 25 years. Georg knows he can’t do anything else, he won’t find new employment. It’s not the money: his raison d’être, his professional identity, is suddenly stripped from under his feet.

A healthy dose of Viennese blackest-black humour

His boss helpfully suggests : “You could write a book!” “What book?” “About music?” “Pull the other one…” On his way out, to the receptionist: “I’m off to write a book!”

Circus Tricks

Thus begins the charade that Georg will play out for his wife. Every morning, he leaves the house saying he’s going to the office. He really goes to Prater, Vienna’s much-loved amusement park. He befriends the guy running the Lilliput-train, a ne’er-do-well who even turns out to have gone to the same Viennese high school as our hapless protagonist.

In getting to know the fairground people, he realizes there are ways to take revenge on his former boss who fired him. With a healthy dose of Viennese blackest-black humour, the films catapults through a series of surreal twists and turns.

Director-writer and lead star Josef Hader balances mundane and ridiculous with finesse. A baroque score serenades the rage of the jilted employee. The beautifully worked contrast of the inner-city fair and the snow-muffled countryside heightens the absurdity. It’s all in the title, Wilde Maus: domestic, but off the handle.

A sparkling spin on an unemployment story

Captured in stunning cinematographic style, Hader brings together fairground romance, sushi vengeance, bright lights and big city – and even a parallel universe, in which the anti-hero’s wife clocks that something is not quite right, and goes on self-discovery journey of her own.

Wilde Maus is a sparkling spin on the essentially unglamourous tale of an individual losing his job and being robbed of his identity.

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