Dir.Wolfgang Mumberger. Austria. 2004. 117mins.
Unsubtle,blunt and brutal, Wolfgang Murberger's comedy thriller assaults Austria'sfavorite sacred cows one after the other with a relish whose rough charms willbe difficult to appreciate beyond German-language territories.
Basedon the novel by Wolfgang Haas, Silentium is not so much a sequel as arepeat performance by one of the country's most successful comics, Josef Hader.Here he plays a down-and-out private detective who lands in Salzburg, home toMozart and civility, for a bumpy, nasty adventure, which paints the church,police and the city's renowned music festival as dens of iniquity andcorruption.
Describedby the film-makers themselves as 'an evil fairy tale', the featuresteams ahead at full force, using thick local slang and even thicker localjokes to spice it up. Predictably a natural hit at home, with similar rosyprospects in Germany, chances are less secure once it departs native soil fordubbed and subtitled markets. The film played in Panorama at Berlin.
Lookinglike a homeless hobo, Brenner is first introduced as a security officer firedby a department store for bothering highly respectable young lady KonstanzeDornhelm (Maria Kostlinger) about the lingerie she has just shoplifted.
Afew scenes later and the same woman hires his services to investigate the deathof her husband, Gottlieb, officially ruled a suicide but, she believes,murdered to silence his accusations of having been molested by a Catholicpriest while a schoolboy.
Brennertakes the job and, with the assistance of faithful sidekick and ambulancedriver Berti (Simon Schwartz), sets out rummage through every closet he canfind in Salzburg. Along the way he uncovers evidence of wrong doing on the partof all the major institutions as well as discovering that famous opera starshave particularly perverse whims that must be satisfied at any cost.
Ironyand horror, sarcasm and vulgarity are generously served at a hectic pace, in agritty, frolicsome caricature which never finds time to dwell on any of thedarker moments.
Thelarge cast of characters are mostly restricted to brief, parts, with the actionvery much centring around the always-on-display Hader, his laidback performanceand deadpan wit being just what the role requires.
Technicalcredits, including precise camera work and brisk cutting are impeccable for afilm for which a sequel is now being planned.
Prodcos: Dor Films, OFI, ORF, FFW,Land & Stadt Salzburg
Aust dist: Luna-Film
Int'l sales: Sola Media/AtrixFilms
Exec prod: Manfred Fritsch
Prods: Danny Krausz, Kurt Stocker
Scr: Wolfgang Murenberger, JosefHader, Wolfgang Haas, from the novel by Haas
Cine: Peter von Haller
Ed: Evi Romen
Prod des: Renate Martin, AndreasDorhausen
Music: Sofa Surfers
Main cast: Josef Hader, SimonSchwartz, Joachim Krol, Maria Kostlinger, Udo Samel, Jurgen Tarrach, RosieAlvarez, Georg Friedrich, Anne Bennent