You've Seen it All Before - This Time In German! That's No Bad Thing Though.
- What a Man review by DS
Matthias Schweighofer wrote, directs (in tandem with Torsten Kunstler) and headlines in the German romantic comedy prior to his involvement in the world of Zack Snyder’s zombie-verse. As a first effort he cleverly chooses safe ground where any audience would know what they were viewing and how the story would resolve but then gently bends a few perceptions and tropes. Not breaking them but enough for the audience to have perhaps ‘not seen that before’.
Disappointingly for a non-Hollywood film it is all too familiar though. Schweighofer is bland but comedic as Alex, although his wimpiness is cranked up to eleven when to stop the frustration of those watching perhaps it could have been on seven. Some of what he does and puts up with makes you want to slap him really hard in the face – so I suppose you could say the decisions made by Schweighofer work. For me it was a bit too much.
Much like the ‘on the wrong tack’ Okke who equally was just a tiny bit too broad. If both the male leads had just pulled back a bit, toned down only a small amount, the film would have perhaps worked better. This is not to say What a Man is not an enjoyable watch, because it is, but the cartoonish aspect of the characters will definitely annoy and put some people off.
Likewise, the obvious road the story follows is a bit too familiar and was hoping for a few unexpected twists or turns. Schweighofer changes the airport run ending just enough to make you smile, the getting back with the ex is managed better, although any woman like Carolin, again painted broad by Mavie Horbiger, might find it hard to get a long-term partner. She is really horrible and somewhat psychotic. Any normal person would see that within ten minutes of talking to her. Once more the strokes are too broad, although I understand why.
Nele, played by Sibel Kekilli, is easily the most balanced and well-played character in the film and her interactions with Alex do have obvious on-screen chemistry
Yet despite my complaints, What a Man, is greater than the sum of its parts. It is enjoyable, funny in places, and makes you feel good at the film's end, although I still do not understand what Etienne, Nele’s boyfriend, had done near the end of the film. Perhaps I missed something?
Matthias Schweighofer is an actor-director who seems to split opinion, some feeling he is overrated others feel he is a talent worth watching. If his acting/directing in the two English-language Netflix specials are anything to go by. He has grown and learned in the 12 years since What a Man was made. Clearly, his strength in acting is playing a hapless, frightened, type but his ‘comic chops’ are strong. I feel he is a talent that needs watching and so far have enjoyed output of his I have seen.
What a Man is not groundbreaking but nor is it awful, an enjoyable Sunday afternoon watch. Really is that such a bad thing?
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