After two bizarre documentaries, Ulrich Seidl returns to narrative filmmaking with a typically uncompromising portrait of a nightclub singer.
Richie Bravo (Michael Thomas) is a singer in a nightclub in the Italian coastal town. It’s off season, the weather has gone the way of the tourists and all that remains are a few locals and the odd visitor for Richie to entertain. He supplements his income by fulfilling the sexual needs of a few locals for cash. And he occasionally drops in on his father, whose senility finds him spouting Nazi slogans from his youth. But things change when Richie’s daughter turns up out of the blue. After a pained, embarrassing first encounter, she demands from him 18 years of unpaid childcare. And she’s brought help to get it.
After the wonderfully eccentric Safari (2016) and disturbing In the Basement (2014), Seidl’s first narrative feature in nine years returns to the nihilism-tinged world that made the Love trilogy (2012-13), Import Export (2007) and Dog Days (2001) so bleakly compelling. Thomas is superb as Bravo, a man unencumbered by guilt or self-loathing. And as with his earlier films, Seidl’s skill in rendering Thomas as an all-too-believable character lies in his willingness to journey to the basest level of human behaviour.