Best of ’16, Honorable Mention: Tomcat

kater2-08Tomcat (Kater). Klaus Händl. Austria.

Imagine Michael Haneke directing a queer remake of Ruben Östlund’s Force majeure that also doubles as a lusty, comedic update of the myth of Adam & (St)eve, and you’ll have a pretty good sense of what to expect from actor-turned-director Klaus Händl’s sophomore feature, Tomcat. Winner of the prestigious Teddy Award at this year’s Berlinale, the film chronicles the idyllic life of a handsome, fortysomething gay couple, Andreas (Philipp Hochmair) and Stefan (Lukas Turtur), who live with their beloved cat Moses in a lovely country home in the vineyards outside Vienna. Complete with a healthy sex life, a sizable group of friends, and respectable jobs working together in an orchestra, the couple’s Garden of Eden-like existence becomes compromised in a single devastating instance… one that’s probably best left out of descriptions of the film, but is akin to the avalanche in Force majeure.

kater22-04While the Haneke comparison is almost too easy, considering Händl himself had bit parts in both The Piano Teacher and 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance, it’s clear the director learned a thing or two from his Oscar-winning compatriot. With that said, Tomcat is considerably funnier and sexier than you’d imagine from a film exploring the existential destruction of a once-happy relationship. Händl has a tendency to adhere to the creation myth a little too closely, from the garden to the nudity to the presence of a snake, but as a character study and an examination of grief, Tomcat is totally captivating.

kater22-09Tomcat premiered in the Panorama section at the Berlinale in February and has played at various festivals worldwide. Unfortunately, I don’t have any distribution info for the U.S., U.K., or France.

With: Lukas Turtur, Philipp Hochmair, Thomas Stipsits, Manuel Rubey, Gerald Votava, Gabriela Hegedüs, Brigitte Pototschnig, Oswald Koehler, Simon Hatzl, Richard Obermayr

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