The angst of growing up in 1980s Germany

THESSALONIKI – Day four of the 43rd Thessaloniki International Film Festival and things seem to be going at whirlwind speed: The public’s enthusiasm is such that most evening screenings are well sold out by 2 p.m. An increase in the number of visitors from previous years has altered the atmosphere slightly, giving it a more frenetic quality, but Warehouse G – the festival’s administrative and social center – continues to attract the crowds who want to enjoy a few moments of lively verbal controversy over the latest screening. One film just shown was «Bungalow,» a German production in the international competition. Directed by 33-year-old Ulrich Kohler, this film received mixed reviews from the audience that watched its first screening. Some found it stilted and slow, while others seemed to identify with the main character. In short, «Bungalow» looks at a 20-year-old German soldier who goes AWOL when his unit stops for lunch at a highway rest stop, making his way to his parent’s bungalow in a small town. His parents are away on holiday and Paul (played well by skater-turned-actor Lennie Burmeister, who won the Best Actor Award in Buenos Aires) spends his time slacking off, getting himself into oodles of trouble with his more responsible, domineering brother, the military police, his brother’s Danish B-movie actress girlfriend and his own girlfriend, who dropped him like a hot potato as soon as he walked through the door. Smoking marijuana, drinking heavily, lounging by his parents’ pool, making sexual advances toward his own and his brother’s girlfriend, and smashing up a car, Paul never seems to change his facial expression, which is that of indifference. «Paul has no idea what he wants to do or who he is. He doesn’t care about anything,» said Burmeister in a Q&A session with the public. «Many young people today find they have nothing to rebel against, especially when their parents are very liberal,» added the film’s producer Tobias Buchner in an interview, also arguing the death of ideological fervor. In effect, the film takes a close look at the angst of the young Germans who grew up in the late 1980s (the director’s generation), a time of non-politics, when many young people struggled to free themselves from the shadow of their ideologically polemic, hippie-turned-yuppie parents. Rebel without a cause «Paul joins the army to rebel against his parents, but then understands that it is no rebellion at all. He rebels against his brother (who is successfully completing his PhD) by trying to sleep with his girlfriend,» said Buchner. Though Burmeister’s incredibly blase attitude may seem far-fetched to some, taken in the context of a social comment, it adds verity to the point the director is trying to make. Furthermore, there are several scenes in which Paul’s character tries to connect with those around him. When his brother asks him why he’s not in the barracks, he quietly says, «Some people go crazy in there,» but gets no reaction from Max. His passes at the two girls are more a play for tenderness than they are for sex. Paul is not just an apathetic young man, but one looking for his own place in a society where the social definitions and distinctions in which he grew up no longer exist but haven’t been replaced.

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