Andreas and Stefan are a happy, loving, expressive couple living in bliss with their cat Moses in a beautiful house situated in a Viennese vineyard. They both work for an orchestra, the full-blooded Stefan as a musician, the slightly more reserved Andreas as a pencil-pusher. Life is a comfortable, loving whirl of wonderful friends, classical music, naked breakfasts and the sort of garden parties that Europeans excel at – the kind where no one gets hammered and starts mouthing off, no one nips indoors to watch football on the telly and refreshment consists of berries and homemade wine rather than Doritos and sun-boiled bottles of Becks.
It’s so idyllic, in fact, that it all threatens to become a little cloying. There are only so many tender, naked muesli moments one can take, after all. Luckily for all fans of overly-symbolic foreshadowing, a snake – an actual snake, that is – enters this paradise, and although it is dealt with fairly swiftly, this serpentine interloper hints at the change that is to come.
It would be unfair to describe its exact nature but an act of unexpected, sudden and alarming violence shakes the foundations of Andreas and Stefan’s utopia to a degree that they – and we – find it very hard to imagine that they could ever go back to the garden.
Kater (“tomcat” – and also, intriguingly, “hangover” in German) is a still, actorly, meditative film of meaningful silences, lingering long-shots and occasional OTT histrionics. It can stray a little close to a parody of pent-up middle-class rage, with one elongated bout of off-screen howling verging on the Pythonesque. But the pain is ultimately real. And so is the anger. We all have raw, unruly emotions swirling inside us. Do we push them down or let them out? Do we try to deal with them or do we allow them to rule us? Intriguing questions that Kater takes its sweet time to consider.
Adam Lee Davies
Kater (Tomcat) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more of our reviews and interviews from the festival here.
For further information about Berlin Film Festival 2016 visit here.