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by Karl Markovics

grade: 7

Superworld – the second film by actor and director Karl Markovics – stages a true mystical experience, along with the rediscovery of a love relationship that had been considered, for too many years, irretrievably failed. And yet, despite the issues dealt with, Markovics doesn’t want to express any particular thesis on the subject, leaving the spectator great freedom of interpretation.

Strange voices from a distant world

While in 2011 renowned actor Karl Markovics was well-received by audiences and critics for his debut feature Breathing, just four years later he was back behind the camera to direct Superworld, his second feature, which was presented in the experimental section Forum at the 65th Berlinale.

Through an unusual and interesting operation, Markovics has staged the singular story of Gabi (an excellent Ulrike Beimpold), a middle-aged woman who works as a cashier in a big supermarket, mother of two adult children (one of whom, a soldier, still lives with her) and married to a man who seems not to take care of her anymore (Rainer Wöss). One day, something inexplicable suddenly happens to her and she begins to hear strange voices in her head.

This situation is undoubtedly a difficult one to stage without lapsing into banal clichés or into an unconvincing screenplay. And yet, Karl Markovics has managed to pull it off, making a productively courageous, certainly imperfect, but also sincere and genuine film. Undoubtedly unique.

Superworld doesn’t convince immediately. And if, at first, what strikes us most is the over-exposed, light that almost gives us the idea of a television film (with a direction that, especially in the initial moments, seems far too clumsy), leaving us with many doubts, the film soon takes off. And, as the show goes on, it surprises us, annihilates us, never ceases to astonish us.

Born out of a strong faith lived by Markovics, Superworld stages a true mystical experience, together with the rediscovery of a love relationship that has been considered, for too many years, irretrievably failed. And yet, despite the issues dealt with, Markovics doesn’t want to expose certain theses in this regard, but, on the contrary, leaves the spectator great freedom of interpretation. This is something that is never really taken for granted, especially when the issue of religion is in the spotlight.

And here, of course, we immediately find parallels with Markovics’ first film, Breathing. If, in fact, this first work, through the theme of death, skilfully stages the rediscovery of life, here too in Superworld it is life that becomes the main protagonist, coming forth with all its impetus, with all its light, with all its joy. An undoubtedly difficult task, this one. And the main peculiarity of Superworld is precisely its screenplay, never over the top, never pretentious, which plays kindly with the perceptions of the protagonist as well as of the spectator, initially leading him along a certain path, only to completely overturn his initial convictions. And then, suddenly, even the factors that had initially made us sceptical seem to make sense: the blinding light can only be as it is represented, the camera’s attention to detail and the everyday gestures of the protagonist take on a precise meaning, in a staging that shows the director’s excellent knowledge.

Superworld, then, filmed almost entirely in Hinterbrühl – a small town ten kilometres from Vienna where Markovics lives – is a little, precious film in which the director has staged something that touches him closely and that he feels deeply, with a rare sincerity of intention. A tender and genuine film, light as a feather, which, together with the previous Breathing, only proves to be a true hymn to life.

Original title: Superwelt
Directed by: Karl Markovics
Country/year: Austria / 2015
Running time: 114’
Genre: drama
Cast: Ulrike Beimpold, Nikolai Gemel, Simon Jaritz, Thomas Mraz, Angelika Strahser, Rainer Wöss, Kati Zambito
Screenplay: Karl Markovics
Cinematography: Michael Bindlechner
Produced by: Epo-Film Produktionsgesellschaft

Info: the page of Superworld on the website of the Austrian Film Commission; the page of Superworld on iMDb