Written & Directed by Alexander Tuschinski
Starring Sebastian B., Alexander Tuschinski, Dominic Rödel, Tonie Redford, Marc Ortner
Indie Film Review by Chris Olson
Flamboyant filmmaker Alexander Tuschinski delivers a warped coming of age tale about a boy called Arnold (Sebastian B.) trying to become more confident talking to females. His pathetic attempts soon receive a supercharge when he gains the formidable instruction of charismatic womaniser Mr. Konstantin (Tuschinski), who offers him the tricks of his "trade".
Told with the same energetic style as seen in Tuschinski's movie Timeless, Menschenliebe (which means Philanthropy in English) has theatrical charm and life buzzing through the entire running time. There is something kinetic about Tuschinski's direction that allows for a disarming approach to storytelling, engendering the audience to disarm themselves and be entertained. The use of musical numbers and eccentric comedy felt reminiscent of classic Mel Brooks comedies.
Whilst Timeless had more political edge and was a little more sophisticated in its plotting, Menschenliebe has a simpler narrative structure. The story would not have benefited from being at all convoluted, but could have been enriched by a more balanced second half. Mr. Konstantin does a lot of the heavy lifting by the end, which is generally fine as he is an enigmatic character, but this does result in the viewer losing a lot of the connection with Arnold. That being said, the chemistry between Tuschinski and B. is brilliant to behold.
Watch the official movie trailer for Menschenliebe above.
The dialogue is where this indie film falls down. The misogyny is repeated too much that it starts to lose all comic effect and feels slightly offensive. There is a sequence involving Mr. K and a student he is meant to be tutoring that came across as bafflingly crude and unnecessary, like a skit from a complete different television show. Tuschinski's character gets given the lion's share of the lines once he arrives in the movie which, coupled with his violent outbursts and pianist skills, made him feel too far removed from the reality of the story, a dreamlike menace.
Cinematically Tuschinski shows he has a badass arsenal when it comes to filmmaking that you can't help but be impressed. For an indie filmmaker, the guy just does miracles. His attention to detail and visual flair is very evident in Menschenliebe, and this is a film that displays the building blocks that he used in Timeless to make something even more impressive. A little rough around the edges and more than a tad self-indulgent yes, but this is a film that is definitely...ahem...special.
Watch our exclusive Filmmaker Interview with director Alexander Tuschinski below...