Lose Your Head: Berlin Review

A dangerous love story between strangers, set in Berlin’s gay underground, plays out with all the subtlety of a comic strip.

A holiday of casual gay sex, drugs and disco turns to horror against the backdrop of swinging Berlin.

BERLIN -- A confused thriller that takes far too long identifying itself as such, Lose Your Head follows the reckless Berlin holiday of a young Spaniard addicted to playing with fire, despite being warned what can happen.  Co-directed by Stefan Westerwelle (Detlef) and Patrick Schuckmann, this German indie has little to recommend it after its laid-back opening establishes characters and location. The naïve young hero in search of fun loses sympathy scene by scene, until few viewers will finally care whether he’s the victim of a serial killer, or a bad drug trip. Shot in accented English, lingua franca for the international characters, the film should find some support from gay audiences thanks to its morbid sexual undertones and a few hot bed scenes.

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When he first arrives in summertime Berlin, having just broken up with his boyfriend back home in Madrid, Luis is a wide-eyed mop-head entranced with street freaks and party people. He gets into his first disco by disowning his friends and pretending to accompany a beautiful girl. They share a potent line of white powder that sends Luis’s head spinning. The next day he finds himself trapped in her apartment until an efficient fireman helps him climb out a window. 

At a street party he meets and falls under the spell of the enigmatic, probably sadistic Viktor (Yugoslav actor Marko Mandic.) After Viktor tosses him in the river and nearly drowns him, Luis falls instantly in love. Meanwhile he meets a stunning Greek girl desperately searching for her missing brother, who looks a lot like him and who may be Viktor's ex.  Is Viktor a maniac or not? That is the fatal question Luis can’t answer, until the film nosedives into its own separate reality.

On the positive side of the ledger is the fluid if perpetually underlit camerawork that suggests more than it shows, and Mandic's unpredictable, riveting performance.

Venue: Berlin Film Festival (Panorama), Feb. 8, 2012.

Production company: Mutter-Film

Cast: Fernando Tielve, Marko Mandic, Sesede Terziyan, Stavros Yagulis, Samia Chancrin, Jonas Berami

Directors: Stefan Westerwelle, Patrick Schuckmann

Screenwriter: Patrick Schuckmann

Producers: Patrick Schuckmann, Michael Schuckmann

Director of photography: Julia Daschner

Production designers: Janina Niemesch, Maria Fechner

Costumes: Catia Sofia Pereira Garcia

Editor: Ute Schall

Music: Freedarich, Touchy Mob

107 minutes.