Some movies fail because they require more interest from their audiences than their script and characters are able to provide. Tomcat is such a film. Affluent Viennese couple Stefan (Lukas Turtur) and Andreas (Philipp Hochmair) live happily with their cat, Moses. The adorable tubby feline seems to act as a surrogate son for his owners; when the couple go out for New Year’s Eve, he is sent to their neighbours to be babysat. Stefan and Andreas are classical music connoisseurs and enjoy successful careers working for the same orchestra. They often entertain friends and coworkers. Their relationship is passionate, and they aren’t averse to the occasional spectator in bed. Their seemingly infallible happiness is suddenly shattered when Stefan experiences a sudden, unexplained violent urge and kills Moses with his bare hands.
Initially, the feature seems to work. The portrayal of a homosexual relationship seems reasonably honest and realistic, with a nicely chosen classical score that flows from the workplace into the home. The film’s very European attitude to casual nudity seems to fit with the everyday sensuality of the characters’ lives. Director Klaus Händl does a nice job of uniting the lovers through the cinematography, shooting them together, as well as separating them after Moses’s death.
However, his efforts to show us what is at stake in the relationship seem too forced, the love too perfect, and unfortunately Tomcat quickly unravels from there. The central conceit begins to stagnate just as Händl becomes too heavy-handed with his metaphors and religious symbolism. There’s no huge confrontation between the men, just a slow burn of grieving and reconciliation. While this may be more considered and emotive, as a result the film feels about twice as long as it needs to be, and the nuances of the love that Andreas and Stefan share aren’t enough to make the work interesting. The doomed cat is the loveable centre of the early scenes, and without him the characters, and with them our attention, drift and wane. Everyone involved makes an admirable effort, but the result is too self-indulgent and insubstantial to leave much of an impression. Cat lovers should also give it a miss.
Tomcat is released nationwide on 12th May 2017.
Watch the trailer for Tomcat here: