Der letze Sommer der Reichen (The Last Summer of the Rich) Review

Posted: April 8, 2015 in 2015 Berlinale, Drama, Foreign, Reviews
Tags: , , , , , ,

Last SummerImagine that Shakespeare wrote one more play in the vein of Titus Andronicus, a story replete with palace intrigue, villainy and violence, and a bit of rough sex. Now, envisage a film based on that play with the screenwriter transposing the action from an incestuous royal court to a contemporary family-owned corporation. Dress the heir apparent in a sheer blouse, black bra, seamed stockings, and peep toe shoes rather than purple robes and a tiara. Substitute conniving bankers for devious cardinals. Keep the castle and the attendant nun, but swap out the throne for a real seat of power – the position of CEO. The end result of such a scenario might look strikingly similar to Der letze Sommer der Reichen (The Last Summer of the Rich), an over-the-top tale of under-the-sheet and behind-the-back maneuverings within the modern monarchy of a Vienna-based corporation.

Director/screenwriter Peter Kern introduces us to the action with the visual equivalent of the slap of a gloved hand against a latex-covered ass in a first scene that will have some viewers as wide eyed as the young girl in search of her mother in the midst of a S&M orgy. For those keeping score at home, the participant in the scuba gear is our tragic heroine, the redoubtable Hanna von Stezewitz (Amira Casar), who spends her days in the boardroom, her evenings at philanthropic events surrounded by flatterers and toadies, and her nights in pursuit of sexual satisfaction. Her spare time is given over to waiting for her grandfather to die from the interminable terminal illness that has confined him to bed within the family mansion.

Keeping watch at Grandpapa’s bedside is Sister Sarah (Nicole Gerdon), a nasty as you might want her to be nun, who at first seems a mere obstacle to Hanna’s plan to hasten the old goat’s demise, but soon becomes the potential scratch for Hanna’s insatiable itch. The two actresses dance a wicked tango with a few deliciously unexpected twists, dips, and turns. The fall of an empire was never so decadent nor so much fun, but potential viewers should be warned. It is the nature of fetishes to be idiosyncratic and individual – not all will find Der letze Sommer der Reichen to their taste. Hanna is a predator, and her ravishing of a young commoner (Susanna Hohlrieder) will upset some audiences, even though the scene itself and the subsequent consequences are far from gratuitous. It falls on the seemingly faithful manservant Boris (Winfried Glatzeder) to keep both the High and the Low in their proper place.

Kern reestablishes Vienna as the capital of kink with a sharp paced, crisply filmed curiosity. Casar and Gerdon are terrific in the leads with the latter particularly effective in a slow unveiling of her character like a dancer who puts the tease back into stripping. And if the fifth act here matches Hamlet in bloodshed, so much the better. The Queen is dead. Long live the Queen!

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