Three weird birds, an old Ford: Felix Stienz’s debut film "Puppe, Icke & der Dicke" has a good atmospheric drive.
Bruno (Matthias Scheuring, left), Bomber (Tobias Boettcher, right) and Europe (Stephanie Capetanides, center) are on their way to Berlin together. Image: ZDF / Stefan Hoederath
This has become a road movie subgenre in its own right: two or three more or less lovable losers, heroes of the precariat or otherwise short-changed, who race through the pampas in an old car that somehow has to be cool without being allowed to be posh. An Opel Kadett or Porsche 993 would therefore be out of the question. Life artists in search of a different life or just escaping from the old one.
There are many examples: Frank Giering as Floyd with his, that is, with Walters’ souped-up Ford Granada in "Absolute Giants". Bouli Lanners as Yvan with his broken-down Chevrolet Caprice in "Eldorado". Of course: Susan Sarandon as Louise Sawyer with her open Ford Thunderbird in "Thelma & Louise".
And now: Tobi B. as Bomber with his sky blue metallic painted Ford Taunus Turnier in "Puppe, Icke & der Dicke". The third film in this year’s run of the "Shooting Stars" series of up-and-coming films from the small TV theater.
The 156 centimeter tall actor Tobi B. is indeed a discovery. B. stands for "Bottcher," in film as in life, and in both he prefers to be called Bomber. His somewhat cartoonish body proportions are, we also learn from the film, due to the rare Silver Russell syndrome.
"Puppe, Icke & der Dicke," Aug. 11, 0:30 a.m., ZDF.
Mangy artist pack
With his Berlinish squeaky voice, he sounds like the little brother of fellow actor Andreas Schmidt: "You can’t do anything, you don’t do anything – go to Berlin! This mangy artist pack" is apt to make him resent his hometown. However: "The crucial thing is that you have a plan. And I have a plan. I still have contacts in Paris."
Bomber is a loser, Paris – shot low budget in Strasbourg – a shot in the oven. On the way back to Berlin, Europe (Stephanie Capetanides) and Bruno (Matthias Scheuring) are soon sitting in his Ford. Europe is blind and pregnant.
A much more pragmatic "Amelie" on her way to meet the father of the expected child, of whom she only knows that his name is Matthias and that he is a garbage man in Berlin. Bruno is fat and gentle and does not speak. Not a word.
Naturally, the journey of the three impaired in various ways does not proceed in unison. The verbal battles, conducted in Berlin, French and bad English, draw their comic potential not least from the virtuoso confusion of language. There it blossoms, the European idea.
Searching for and finding love
Bomber constantly acts like a chavvy asshole, but the women, who are all just called "dolls" by him, see right through him. In truth, he is a sensitive and understanding man, much more decent than Matthias, for example.
And when Bomber Europe finally proposes, it sounds like this: "You know what? Actually, I’m a very nice guy. I may look like shit, but it doesn’t matter to you!"
Not everything in Felix Stienz’s (writer, director, editor, producer) feature-length debut about searching for and finding love is as right as the casting of the leads. The plot is even thinner than the limp bomber.
Stienz’s great role model is obviously Aki Kaurismaki. The Finnish director is revered as a master of scurrility and laconicism. However, when a group of expressionless gawking and strumming musicians, according to the director’s instructions, has to push their way into the picture, it doesn’t really fit in with the film’s sound, which is determined by the crude humor of the dialogue. A matter of taste, perhaps.
But "Puppe, Icke & der Dicke" definitely has a good atmospheric drive as a road movie.