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Casting (A PopEntertainment.com Movie Review)

Casting

CASTING (2017)

Starring Andreas Lust, Judith Engel, Milena Dreissig, Nicole Marischka, Stephan Grossmann, Tim Kalkhof, Ursina Lardi, Marie-Lou Sellem, Corinna Kirchhoff, Andrea Sawatzki and Victoria Trauttmansdorff.

Screenplay by Nicolas Wackerbarth and Hannes Held.

Directed by Nicolas Wackerbarth.

Distributed by The Match Factory. 90 minutes. Not Rated.

Screened from Kino! 2018 Festival of German Films

Moviemaking is a strange, surreal pursuit, usually populated by strange, surreal people.

This conundrum was explored in great depth about 20 years ago in the cult-classic comedy Living in Oblivion with Steve Buscemi and Catherine Keener.

Casting sort of feels like what would happen if Living in Oblivion were played straight as a drama. Which is not to say that Casting isn’t funny – it often is very – it’s just to say that it is taken on a slightly more realistic level.

No faux-pretentious dream sequence scenes about angry dwarves in a tux and top hat (who was played by a then fairly-unknown Peter Dinklage, by the way) like in Oblivion show up in Casting. Just the minutiae, the politics, the egos, the backstabbing, and the unrelenting boredom of making a movie.

Casting tells the story of an ill-fated German production, which is going to be a television remake of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant, to commemorate what would have been the late director’s 75th birthday.

That film was a highly melodramatic one to start out with, and the new version takes things into an even more conservative bent, changing it from a tragic lesbian love story to a straight coupling. The film has hired a huge TV star to play the male lead, to get interest in the film, though he hasn’t shown up yet because of his busy schedule. They are currently auditioning all of the big name German actresses of a certain age (actually certain ages, they seem to range from their 40s to their 60s) to play Petra.

The problem is they have hired a first-time feature film director (she has worked in documentaries previously) to make this film, and she is determined to find the absolute perfect match, often antagonizing the actresses who are trying for the role. They are still far from casting the role, and there is a matter of days before the shooting is set to commence.

The lead role here, sort of the connecting tissue to everything, is Gerwin (Andreas Lust), a gay former actor who had finally given up his artistic dream for the more realistic goal of becoming a contractor. He comes in to be a “scene partner” (acting the TV star’s role during the auditions) as a favor to the director, who is an old friend. He watches the anarchy going on around him, at first amused by the havoc, but eventually getting caught up in the whole thing and falling back into the trap of acting ambition.

In the meantime, a rogue’s gallery of actors, execs and crew (the casting lady, the make-up woman, the best boy, the set designers) come to shuddering stops and starts with each progression.

Casting makes it seem a wonder that any film ever gets finished, and that is meant as a compliment.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2018 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: April 14, 2018.

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