Art Girls Review

Posted: April 15, 2014 in Foreign, Reviews
Tags: , , , ,

Maturanazwillinge-mit-Angels_falckenbergmaxmittelNo one sets out to make The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Even those responsible for The Rocky Horror Picture Show did not intend to produce the phenomenon. The midnight-show cult classic was the unintended consequence of a desperate movie studio trying to recoup some of its investment after the film bombed in its initial, traditional theater run. Therefore, it is inherently unfair to say that a picture should have aspired to being the next Rocky Horror, but that may be the most constructive criticism to offer Art Girls, a genre mash-up of a movie that never melds.

Director and screenwriter Robert Bramkamp dips his toe into the swimming pool of camp, but refuses to dive in. The story, lushly ludicrous as it is in the telling, suffers from a schizophrenic tonal approach that veers from satire to science fiction to romance to philosophical treatise without satisfaction. The cast does not easily navigate all these shifts, leaving some behind as the narrative tacks unexpectedly and changes direction.

Twin scientists Laurens and Peter Maturana (played by Peter Lohmeyer) are experimenting with L-radiation to unlock potential, but hit a roadblock when their flying frogs can’t sustain lift off. Laurens, the sensitive one, experiments on himself, which leaves him as limp as 10-day old lettuce – an outcome that can only be reversed through exposure to art. He becomes an unofficial curator of the Berlin art scene, where he searches for those that can create art that will stiffen his spine as well as other body parts. He recruits Nikita Neufeld (Inga Busch) and Una Queens (Megan Gay), two Berlin-based artists, and, at the same time sets loose a hive-mind of ten other random souls with the rallying cry of, “Start the art.”

Actually, it’s a good bit sillier than that. Or at least it should be.

Lohmeyer is in fine form, and Gay vamps it up wonderfully, but Busch plays it straight for the most part, and Jana Schulz as Fiona da Vinci, an unwanted addition to the art team, barely registers. The cheesy special effects are fun. There’s a blue sun, an exoskeleton that climbs the Berlin Television Tower a la King Kong’s assault on the Empire State Building, and sketches that take shape and appear on roadways. Unfortunately, the total effect here is less than the sum of its parts.

The movie is simply too long. Much could have been forgiven, or at least overlooked, if the film had come in at a snappy 85 minutes. The two-hour running time gives ample opportunity for every flaw to be carefully examined.

But there is one real star on display: the art director Susanne Weirich (also credited as producer and member of the production design team). Weirich is an artist whose work is used in the film. Her brilliant piece Angels in Chains, a video installation that merges the female members of the Manson Family with iconic American females in a bizarre sing-along reminiscent of the Lennon Sisters on the Lawrence Welk Show is mesmerizing and plays prominently in a scene early in the movie. Another piece of hers, The Fortune Telling Machine, is almost as fascinating. It is to Weirich’s credit that scenes in the movie could be carved out as standalone gallery pieces, while the overall effort is not yet ready for public display.

One and a half stars.

  1. Mirella McCracken says:

    Is there going to be a Spiderman 2 movie review soon?

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