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Drifter - BFI Flare

average rating is 4 out of 5


Amber Jackson


Posted on:

Mar 27, 2023

Film Reviews
Drifter - BFI Flare
Directed by:
Hannes Hirsch
Written by:
Hannes Hirsch & River Matzke
Lorenz Hochhuth, Gustav Schmidt, Cino Djavid

The closing night film of BFI Flare 2023, Hannes Hirsch’s Drifter is a German-language story of self-discovery of a gay man’s ‘second coming out’ in Berlin’s techno scene. Having moved to Berlin for the first time to live with his boyfriend, Moritz suddenly finds himself alone in an overwhelming city in a gay scene that he is unfamiliar with. Being twenty-two years old, he experiences new sensations in the depths of the gay party scene and the film brings these moments to life in such a vibrant way. Drifter is a story that brings a community to life in a very immersive way and portrays the reality of Berlin as a young single gay person.


Moritz’s partner wants the freedom to explore other experiences without living with someone. Then commences a so-called odyssey of new relationships, encounters and possibilities for Moritz to have in a new city whilst he figures out what he wants. There is an element of intensity and sadness that tinges the frames of every scene as his life takes a dramatic tangent, but this does feel short-lived as his life propels in the direction of his choosing. Whilst it may appear unclear to the viewer what he actually wants out of life, it is clear that he is expressing himself however he likes and surrounding himself with like-minded people. What is most prevalent in this fascinating film is that everybody around Moritz is fighting for connection and fulfillment.


As Moritz learns more about himself and what he wants, he also uncovers what other people want. Every actor has an excellent overwhelming chemistry with each other as it feels as though the viewer is a part of watching a group of friends having fun. In addition to authentic and vulnerable performances, gorgeous outfits and fabulous accessories fill the screen as every character is able to express themselves in a wonderfully real way. Colour and culture fills the screen and revolves around consumption, as each character is able to take what they want from each other in a liberating and consensual way. It is such a unique experience captured on screen and powerful to consider singledom in such a contemporary way.


This is a deep insight into how the younger generations explore life and love in the modern age. Berlin is the central aspect of this theme, with the night life being candidly depicted through the eyes of someone learning about it for the first time. In nightclubs with loud techno music, there is an incredible atmosphere of dancing, drugs and a deep overwhelming sense of simultaneous fun and risk. It is incredibly immersive, even for the viewer. As Moritz travels further into his journey of self-discovery, he meets more people who he can connect with, contrasting to past characters that return to the screen that he has moved on from. It is a spectacular transition that is portrayed in such an animated way that feels free and liberating.


Drifter is a coming-of-age story of sorts, but it is without a doubt a beautifully written portrait of an individual becoming sexually confident. Through trial and error, Moritz unintentionally learns more about friendship and sex as well as living in the moment. Hannes Hirsch has successfully created an empowering feature-length film that provides a refreshing introspective look at the queer experience in Berlin. It is a gloriously human experience and a delightfully honest film to close BFI Flare with. Drifter is well-worth seeing.

About the Film Critic
Amber Jackson
Amber Jackson
LGBTQ+, World Cinema, Film Festival
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