Tim König   |    Friday February 2nd, 2018

First impression

Schreiben Und Schenken

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HARD & UGLY is a bizarre film. The actors speak like in educational short films of the local church federation. Everybody who has ever seen a Fox Searchlight production knows the love story. And Berlin is as sexy and rancid as the city has been marketing itself for years – only that more than half of the time is spoken dialect (but not Berlinish). But through the pointed jokes and unbiased twists, the film develops a peculiar rhythm and warmth, which may seem amateurish in the first few minutes, but is so consequent that you can hardly find anything else than HARD & UGLY strangely stylish and sympathetic.


The plot is a little bit grazed. It is about the fitness trainer Et, who is looking for love. After he falls out in a practice class (“I fucking said, don’t stop breathing!”), his bosses dismiss him. Meanwhile, somewhere in Berlin, Carla is thinking about buying a wedding dress, but instead of finding her fiancé at home, she finds a farewell letter with flimsy explanations for the one-sided separation (“… and the last ejaculation was only faked!”). When Et wants to jump from a rather small bridge into the Landwehrkanal to kill himself, he fails halfway because he can’t make it over the railing. Nevertheless, he calls Carla, who accidentally walks by and pulls him off the railing, a lifesaver from now on. The first date ends with Carla getting off with a guy who calls his biceps ‘Johnny 300’. The search continues, although the rest of the film is almost predictable. But this is not frustrating only because the laconic narrative style of the film – everything is a bit frustrating, but also funny – is nonchalantly captivating.


Much of this effect is due to the wonderfully chosen perspectives on Berlin, which is not devoted to the Kreuzberg chic in exaggerated courtesy, but illuminates the dreariness of the hipster world. Together with the efficient editing and slightly weird pop music (you might well be reminded of the band ‘Fenster’ from Morr Music) the film stays at a safe distance from the more famous German romcoms, but despite the love story it does not develop the unpleasant mixture of nagging arguments and soapy harmony of some of the art house comedies.


On a hangoverish Sunday morning, or after a day full of misadventures, HARD & UGLY is a pure blessing. If you’re not a Mumblecore fan, you’ll have to get into the movie at first, but you’ll be rewarded with a relaxed atmosphere, a successful production and benignant jokes.

Here you can find HARD & UGLY. A LOVE STORY in our offer.

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