From Wings of Need to Run Lola Run, from Cate Shortland’s Berlin Syndrome to one-take marvel Victoria, fairly a couple of film-makers have been seduced by the liberating prospects of the German capital. However an excessive amount of freedom can usually equate to directionless freestyling – and the authority-resistant, hard-partying, gender-fluid spirit of Berlin goes straight to the top of Irish writer-director Samuel Kay Forrest on this rambling and cringingly earnest characteristic debut.
Forrest performs wandering soul Angus, a twentysomething with a side-shave haircut and a thorny household background set on discovering himself within the capital of Euro-hedonism. When he’s not railing towards fascism and scarpering from the polizei, or oh-so-seditiously spray-painting his tag “HipBeat” round city, he has a budding relationship with native lady Angie (Marie Céline Yildirim). She’s unaware, although, that he’s sleeping round with members of each sexes – and, after a pep speak with an inspirational drag queen, turning into extra intent on exploring the components of himself in between.
For a movie about looking and transition, an excessive amount of of this id disaster is baldly spelled out by means of voiceover, with Angus’s inside monologue liable to such zingers as: “We’ve all acquired scars. Yeah – I’ve acquired a couple of.” Solely as soon as does Forrest, quite than the plain method, grapple in correctly dramatised type with gender and sexuality: throughout a 13-minute, single-cut scene through which Angus nervously reveals his new incarnation to Angie. It’s a daring gambit; although over-elongated, this vignette engages much more plausibly with the problems of judgment and acceptance.
More often than not, although, HipBeat can’t rouse itself to be far more than a temper piece – even because it nominally counts all the way down to a climactic Kreuzberg avenue protest. Regardless of the added cost from these scenes being shot in actual life, its political concepts are caught in an embarrassing studenty register: “I really feel a beat on the street as I take a look at the town. A change is coming.” It’s on firmer floor – backed up by Joshua Monroe’s attuned city cinematography and a alternative outing for Mr Flagio’s Italo-disco basic Take a Probability – when arguing how change is in the end rooted in a private revolution.