The film begins with a man being coached in how to ask for money in German. The household needs money, but they don’t seem that bothered about getting any; they lounge around in what is presumably a holiday home and avoid doing anything too laborious. It becomes increasingly clear that they may be bankrupt.
Der Geldkomplex is intriguingly odd to start with, but halfway through it still hasn’t explained anything. The viewer will have no way to understand what is going on – if, indeed, anything is. This isn’t helped by its absurdist streak, which finds room for a woman’s extended (and rather good) impression of a chicken.
At first, it seemed that Der Geldkomplex was about the decadent rich, that the world is collapsing around their ears and they are still too idle and removed to notice. But that doesn’t quite fit with the film’s opening quotation from Lenin about the fact that banks helped foster socialism. There doesn’t seem to be much socialism going on in the film – though maybe the characters here are avoiding society because they think it has a corrupting influence. Is the lack of action meant to be suggesting that there isn’t a lot one can do in a world that one finds shameful?
At one point, it does set up a dichotomy between love and money, suggesting again that living properly in this capitalist world is difficult and unfulfilling. Fair enough, but couldn’t this point have been made with a little more humanism? It isn’t helped by the fact that the film’s characters, or political outsiders if that’s what they are, are clearly more privileged than most. Surely a film from the perspective of the working poor would be more valuable, though that is assuming that this film intended to address these debates about capitalism and recession and our way of life in any real way.
Juan Rodrigáñez, whose directorial debut this is, has crafted an intermittently amusing but wholly vague film. It seems to have a political message, but no idea what it is.
Der Geldkomplex does not yet have a UK release date.
Read more of our reviews and interviews from the festival here.
For further information about Berlin Film Festival 2015 visit here.
Watch the trailer for Der Geldkomplex here: