Dir David Pinillos. Spain-Germany-Switzerland. 2010. 90mins


This smartly made Euro comedy-drama is an elegantly assembled film made with a refreshing honesty and featuring a splendid cast of young European actors. Its modest nature and lack of real drama or big star names may hamper distribution, but it is a film that is easy on the eye and satisfying in content.

Director David Pinillos does a great job in letting the story slowly develop in a manner that veers nicely between playful and traumatic.

Despite the key cast ranging in nationality from German to Italian and Spanish, and the main location being Switzerland, the dialogue is predominantly English and the cast seem you have no problem switching languages with ease. The film, which recently won the Best Film Award at the Malaga Film Festival, is being handled by Beta Film, which started selling it at Berlin’s EFM.

The story is largely set in a snowy Zurich, where young Spaniard Daniel (Unax Ugalde) starts work at trendy gourmet restaurant ‘W’, where he quickly impresses the master chef and restaurant owner Thomas (Herbert Knaup). He makes friends with Italian chef Hugo (Giulio Berruti) and German sommelier Hanna (Nora Tshirner), but when Hanna kisses him late one night he wonders if there could be more to their relationship.

Daniel finds himself falling in love with her, but is mortified to discover she is having an affair with Thomas, and is pregnant. When she collapses and is taken to hospital, Thomas, concerned about his wife and his reputation, begs Daniel to look after her. Daniel still hopes she will love him back, but when she leaves for Germany he puts all his energy into work, eventually driving a wedge into his friendship with Hugo. He visits Hanna in Munich, and after she has the child he realises he has to reconsider his life.

Unax Ugalde (who featured in Alatriste and Che) is engaging and impressive as the troubled young chef, looking increasingly like Javier Bardem in certain shots, while Nora Tshirner (who starred in German hit Rabbit Without Ears, and was a former host of German language MTV) is splendid as the determined woman trying to decide between the love of two men.

The different relationships are all nicely set-up and while the story never really sets the pulses racing, it is consistently well-scripted and elegantly performed. The characters are all appropriately multi-faceted and debut feature director David Pinillos does a great job in letting the story slowly develop in a manner that veers nicely between playful and traumatic. He also makes great use of the Geneva locations.

Production companies: Morena Films, Egoli Tossell Film, Orio Produkziok, Zodiac Pictures International

International sales: Beta Film, www.betafilm.com

Producers: Pedro Uriol

Co-producers: Pilar Benito, Lukas Hobi, Benat Ibarbia, Jens Meurer, Reto Scharli, Judy Tossell

Screenplay: Paco Cabezas, David Pinillos, Juan Carlos Rubio

Cinematography: Aitor Mantxola

Editor: Fernando Franco

Production designer: Mario Suances

Music: Marcel Vaid

Main cast: Nora Tshirner, Unax Ugalde, Giulio Berruti, Herbert Knaup, Xenia Tostado