Absurdistan Directed by: Veit Helmer Cast: Kristyna Malérozá, Maximilian Mauff, Nino Chkheidze Running Time: 1 hr 25 mins Rating: Unrated
Plot: In a small village between Asia and Europe, outside of any known country, lives Aya and Temelko. Born on the same day, they grow up together and feel destined to be together. Aya's grandmother, kind of a soothsayer, predicts that they have one week in which to come together or they never will. In the interim, the pipe that brings water to their town breaks and the men in town refuse to fix it so the women go all Lysistrata and refuse their husbands sex until the pipe is repaired. Meaning Temelko has less than a week to fix the pipe and get the girl.
Who’s It For? Do you like German comedy? And yes, it is different. This would be good for fans of Aki Kaurismäki (Man Without a Past).
Expectations: I thought it might be a film version of the novel Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart. It's not.
Kristyna Malérozá as Aya: In a town made up of the middle aged and fat, Aya stands out as a great beauty. Though she initially resembles the creepy alien girl from the infamous Playstation 3 ads, once she gets rid of the braids she becomes an interesting heroine. She becomes the Lysistrata character, leading the women to refuse sex with their husbands. It's a little frustrating because it seems that Aya's making her own problems. But Malérozá's a winning actress, you kind of want Temelko to have to work a little to earn her affection. Especially since he initially seems like a putz. Score: 7
Maximilian Mauff as Temelko: The protagonist, Temelko really wants to get laid. Ok, he's more romantic than that, he wants to make Aya happy too, but in the end he's pretty much a hormonal mess. He's also an anomaly among the men of his town, a proactive human. Mauff walks a a weird line between creepy and sweet. It's the sort of part that only exists in foreign films and raunchy campus comedies. Still, he sells it and the two leads are credible as lovers and friends. Score: 7
Talking: A lot of narration in this film, alternately done by Aya and Temelko. But it works because it jibes with the film's sort of off-kilter tone. Score: 6
Sights: Absurdistan takes place in a desert town so the foliage is a bit non-existant. This makes the scenery a bit bleak. But it's shot well, the production had money and used it well. Score: 6
Sounds: The music gives a sense of place, it's kind of tribal-sounding, gypsy-type music. Score: 6
Best Scene: Temelko romances Aya by trying to make her dreams of flight a reality. He rigs a flying gondola through a series of pulleys. The gondola takes Aya to a pool of water, valuable in a town without any. It's a romantic gesture that raises Temelko in the audience's esteem, and looks pretty cool.
Ending: Everything falls into place and all is well.
Questions: Why does anyone stay in this village?
Rewatchability: It's not a great film, but it's really light so I could totally see myself watching it, just not paying full attention.
Absurdistan has crazy amounts of plot, I barely scratched the surface in the plot summary above. The first 10 minutes of the film explain the history of the exhaustively imagined village between two continents and without a country. Though the film's official website claims the filmmakers got the idea for the script from a news story about Turkish women who withheld sex from their husbands, it most clearly resembles the plot of Aristophenes' play Lysistrata, in which the women of a Greek town refuse to have sex until the men end the Peloponesian War.
The film amuses, but ultimately can't decide if it wants to be a ribald comedy or a tender romance. It has elements of both, but they don't seem to mix as well as the filmmakers seem to think they do. Aya and Temelko's romance is interrupted with scenes of large, middle aged people having what's meant to be amusing sex. I was cringing more than laughing. I don't know if the problem is caused by the culture barrier, but it was definitely weird.
Final Score: 6/10