Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s In a Year of 13 Moons is the influence for director Oskar Roehler’s mosaic of miserabilism, in which three brothers are defined entirely by what they’d like to do with—or to—their sex organs: Agnes (Martin Weiss), a transsexual, reunites with an old flame soon after she’s dumped by her abusive lover; Hans-Jorg (Moritz Bleibtreau) is a librarian and Peeping Tom convinced that his father abused Agnes; and Werner (Herbert Knaup) loses his bearings after his obsessive-compulsive wife refuses to put out and his irritating son videotapes his every faux pas, including the what-the-fuck moment where he shits on the floor of his office while talking on the phone. Agnes and His Brothers is never boring exactly, but it still lacks the wit, formalist rapture, and social insight of the Fassbinder films it aspires to be. Roehler slightly updates In a Year of 13 Moons in that Agnes is more in control of her destiny than the transsexual from the Fassbinder masterpiece, which makes sense since Roehler also does away with the earlier film’s cosmic overtones, but if the horrors that befall the character aren’t part of some higher master plan, nothing that happens to her seems to have much of a real-world context either. Just as the characters are underthought, the storylines are incongruently pieced together: The siblings share exactly one scene together, which has very little to say about why they all turned out so disturbed. Did their father touch Anges inappropriately? If the scene where Hans-Jorg looks into his father’s house and thinks the old man is getting serviced by his brother is any sign, then this guy’s entire fucked-up existence is grounded in a silly misconception. In the end, then, the only thing sadder than the film’s total waste of its widescreen aspect ratio may be its insensitive sense of humor. Points, though, for the casting of the great Margit Carstensen, who supervises one storyline with a grace that eludes the rest of the film.
- First Run Features
- 115 min
- Oskar Roehler
- Oskar Roehler
- Martin Weiss, Moritz Bleibtreu, Herbert Knaup, Katja Riemann, Tom Schilling, Susan Anbeh, Vadim Glowna, Margit Carstensen, Lee Daniels, Marie Zielcke, Oliver Korittke, Martin Semmelrogge, Martin Feifel, Sven Martinek
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