DIRECTOR: Fabien Colas
CAST: Christiane Rausch, Emile Schlesser, Anne Metzler, Nickel Bosenberg, Thomas Maximillian Held
Review by Jack Martin
Right from the opening shot of Fabien Colas’ hard-hitting short Roxy, you can tell that this is an up-close and personal descent into melancholy. It consists of a close-up of our title character, played with great presence by Christiane Rausch, as she is driving in her car back to her small caravan on the outskirts of a German highway; there is deep sadness in her eyes, flooded with regret for her past mistakes and a hidden shame of her present whilst facing uncertainties in her future. It is this kind of distraught nature that carries on throughout the rest of the short film, and creates a tone that is bleak but also refreshingly real.
Though the story might ring some familiarities with some of its characters bordering on archetype, notably Nickel Bosenberg’s hot-tempered bully Alek, the acting is very strong throughout with the script and Colas’ atmospheric direction giving them enough space and pathos to sway their acting arms around freely. Colas also makes the interesting choice of meshing together two very different themes, that of family and animalistic urges – Roxy’s long-lost son Jeff, played by Emile Schlesser, is eager to find her mother, almost as much as Alek is desperate to let loose his sexual urges to vent his frustration (which leads to one or two violent confrontations), and is finally drawn to her upon hearing of her work as a prostitute. It’s a more sombre reflection of a nimble young man visiting a sex worker for the first time, only it’s for more biological reasons than one might expect.
Its strongest moments are, indeed, the precious few scenes where mother and son actually share screen-time with each other; the scene certainly does not exactly play out how you expect it to, and even ends on an image that is both optimistic and depressing at the same time. It is a more realistic alternative to the Hollywood happy ending that any other filmmaker could have used, and though it may not entirely satisfy the common movie-goer it is an ending you can certainly respect for bravely suggesting something much more depressing than normal.
It will not please everyone with its more downbeat tone, but it is still a well-made and interesting drama with a very brave ending that foregoes the traditional happy ending for something more realistic and gritty.