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by Martin Monk

grade: 7

What is immediately impressive in Favoriten is the extraordinary face of the protagonist, who is perfectly capable of changing her mood from one moment to the next and with just a few short, essential scenes that give us a clear idea of her past.

Towards a new life

Sofia (played by an excellent Lia Wilfing) is a (seemingly) cheerful and happy girl. On a hot summer’s day, she wanders the streets of Vienna approaching cars stopped at traffic lights, looking for a lift. Her aim is to go on holiday. Or at least that is what she says. Yet slowly, after she meets 40-year-old Michael (Christian Dolezal), her past begins to come to light. This, then, is what happens in Favoriten, directed by young Martin Monk, which was supposed to be part of the Diagonale 2020 and which, following the cancellation of the festival, was included in the programme Diagonale 2020 – The Unfinished.

A short, very short road movie, this Favoriten. A delicate and at times poetic coming-of-age in which the main focus is on the encounter between two lonelinesses. Two apparently antithetical worlds that, in an attempt to escape from their past, somehow manage to find themselves again.

What immediately catches the eye in Favoriten is the extraordinary face of the protagonist, who is perfectly capable of changing her mood from one moment to the next and with just a few short and essential scenes aimed at giving us an exhaustive overview of her past. Because, in fact, Martin Monk has managed in just a few minutes to create a complete, well-balanced product and, although not too original, intense enough to ensure that the protagonists are fully characterised. Without requiring too many words.

And then, last but not least, there is the great “Italian dream”. Yes, because, in fact, the protagonist is on her way to Italy, where, after a lively quarrel with her mother, she firmly intends to find her real biological father. Italy, in Favoriten, is considered as the place where, at last, she can find her lost serenity. The place where, after a long, long journey, one can finally find oneself. But will this really be the best solution in order to reconcile with one’s past? Perhaps, in time – and, above all, by meeting the right people – one will learn that, often, the solution is much closer than one might think. And only an intense final embrace can well convey this.

And so, in just eighteen minutes, we immediately become fond of young Sofia. This is thanks to skilful writing and a good mise-en-scène, with a camera that – thanks to a direction devoid of useless directorial virtuosity – knows exactly what to concentrate on.

Favoriten, then, joins the large number of coming-of-age films in the selection of this Diagonale 2020 – The Unfinished. But isn’t coming-of-age one of the favourite film genres in Austria, after experimental or documentary film? One only has to wait, then, to watch Martin Monk’s next works to see whether or not the director will continue along this path.

Original title: Favoriten
Directed by: Martin Monk
Country/year: Austria / 2019
Running time: 18’
Genre: coming-of-age
Cast: Lia Wilfing, Christian Dolezal, Günther Lainer, Renate Baier
Screenplay: Martin Monk
Cinematography: Johannes Hoss
Produced by: Filmakademie Wien

Info: the page of Favoriten on the website of the Diagonale; the website of Favoriten; the page of Favoriten on iMDb