Hidden Reserves | Stille Reserven (2017)

December 9th, 2017
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Valentin wolrd Hitz; Cast: Clemens Schick; Lena Lanzemis, Marion Mitterhammer, Daniel Olbrychski; Austria/Germany/Switzerland 2016, 96′

HIDDEN RESERVES sees Vienna 2033 as a frightening dystopian landscape where even dying is not for free. Inspired by Fahrenheit 451, Valentin Hitz’ brilliantly abrasive scenario is stunning to look at and only diminished by his choice of femme-fatale.

This is a world where the capitalist state is greedy beyond the dreams of avarice: we watch as wagon-loads of humans on life-support are ferried into giant warehouses, where they are stored Amazon style. And that is just what these cocoons are: debt-ridden bodies waiting waiting to be harvested for organ donation, surrogacy, or even data storage. Little wonder then that death insurance is literally ‘to die for’, it’s the only surefire way of guaranteeing the ‘right to die’.  

Vincent Baumann (Schick) sells death insurance salesmen, and he will go to any lengths to get that signature on the dotted line. Emotionally he is nearly catatonic, sexually he is casual and promiscuous:indulging with his boss Diana Dorm (Mitterhammer) in the company bathroom.
Naturally, this sort of environment needs a counterforce, and it comes in the form of a guerrilla unit, led by the enigmatic nightclub singer Lisa Sokulowa (Lanzemis). The group try to cut off the warehouse power supply to put an end to those suffering on death’s door. Dorm instructs Schick to infiltrate the ‘terrorists’, but once exposed to new blood from outside the sterile insurance system, he falls for Lisa and things get complicated when her father Wladimir (Olbrychski), who invented the depot technology, enters the fray.

DoP Martin Gschlacht (Teheran Taboo) creates an intelligent and visually impressive Sci-fi world where the guerrillas live in a noirish ’60s , and the technocrats’ in hues of chilly blue, the identification installations look like blocks of ice. Schick is superb in his alien mien, even when he turns human – and the scenes in Prater Park, having fallen into disrepair, are magical. This remarkable feature is marred by the choice of Lanzemis as the chanteuse. Singing “Teach me Tiger, or I’ll teach you” – composed by Nino Tempo in 1959, and sang by his sister April Stevens – as a diva Lanzemis’ Lisa channels a cabaret singer of the Weimar Republic, her sole expression throughout is monotonous, tight-jawed annoyance. Have a look at the lyrics of “Teach me Tiger” and you decide: they are extremely daring for the late 1950s, and Lanzemis brings absolutely nothing to the party with her reckless lack of emotional range, seriously putting the whole endeavour in a bad light light. A perfect exercise in miscasting. AS


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