Dir: Handl Klaus | Cast: Kater Moses, Lukas Turtur, Philipp Hochmair, Sebastian Loschberger | Drama | Austria | 123min
Klaus Handl is an Austrian filmmaker known for his Locarno prize-winning debut March. His second feature – Berlinale Teddy winner TOMCAT – is a finely crafted piece that pictures the soigné existence of two loved up classical musicians and their handsome tomcat Moses. The trio enjoy a peaceful existence in a leafy upmarket suburb of Vienna and they are not wafting around naked petting each others’ penises and plucking their home grown plums, the couple a enjoy a varied social life and regularly have great sex that sometimes includes their timid clarinetist friend Andreas (Philipp Hochmair).
But Moses isn’t so sociable and their domestic harmony is ruptured one night when the cat gets involved in a territorial scrap and comes off the worse for wear. Stroking him the following morning, Moses snaps back at Stefan, who breaks the poor cat’s neck in retaliation. Life will never be the same again. But this tragedy comes as a distinct relief after over thirty minutes of rather twee domestic bliss now ruptured by a welcome undercurrent of conjugal conflict. While Stefan sobs emotionally in the bedroom, Andreas descends into a deep sulk as the pair engage tight-lipped – and now fully clothed – in a peevish passive aggressive bout of soul-searching. Also gone is the mincing classical music score and we’re left with brooding silence. Then the violence starts with a short sharp cat fight initiated by aggrieved and angry Andreas. Enter screechy violins and more tight-lipped bottom clenching silence and an angst ridden outbreak of tears from Stephan after a football match, where he is soothed and pacified by another male player.
Clearly nothing in this Garden of Eden will ever be as it was and the narrative unravels in a prolonged bout of Andreas sulking petulantly and Stefan trying to appease him until an accident in the plum tree, once again shifts the status quo. What starts out as an enticing Austrian arthouse drama ultimately offers little more than narrative torpor for the remaining hour, as TOMCAT pussyfoots around some resonant relationship issues, instead of bringing something real and resonant to the party. Although pristinely crafted and earnestly performed by Hochmair and Turner, ultimately TOMCAT is just another mediocre domestic drama. MT
OUT ON RELEASE AT SELECTED ARTHOUSE CINEMAS FROM 12 MAY 2017