Divided mainly into a series of sometimes too predictable gags, Love Machine suffers a lot from a weak screenplay, whose twists can already be easily imagined after only a few minutes. Despite the charisma of the talented Thomas Stipsits in the leading role.
There’s something about Georgy
A lightning career, that of the young director Andreas Schmied. If, in fact, the Styrian filmmaker initially studied Anglistics and Germanistics at the University of Graz, already in 2013 he finally made his debut as a director in the film industry with Taking it back, until directing, in 2019, Love Machine, winner of the Audience Award at the Österreichischer Filmpreis 2020.
Starring the young cabaret and stand-up comedian Thomas Stipsits (here at his second feature film after Baumschlager, directed in 2017 by Harald Sicheritz), Love Machine is a brilliant and irreverent rom-com, which focuses entirely on its protagonist, who – following the footprint of his character in Baumschlager – plays the role of a sort of ‘seducer by chance’ (or should we say by necessity), driving women of all ages crazy.
This, then, is the story of Georgy (Stipsits, in fact), a young and penniless musician who usually performs at private parties together with his colleague. However, when the latter has a heart attack, Georgy, finding himself in serious financial difficulty, is forced to temporarily move to his sister Gitti’s (Julia Edtmeier) house. In order to improve his financial situation, he starts working as a gigolo, with the help of Gitti, who will provide him with numerous clients, who usually go to the beauty centre where she works.
Everything initially seems to be going well, until Georgy meets the beautiful Jadwiha (Claudia Kottal), sister of his deceased colleague. He will fall in love with her at first sight, but initially he doesn’t have the courage to tell her about his new job. What to choose, then, between love and career?
Love Machine does not, in fact, aim for a particularly elaborate plot or surprising twists. Nor does it aim to bring up any social or even moral issues. What Andreas Schmied wanted to achieve with his film is primarily something entertaining for the audience, so that they can relax for a little over an hour and a half without asking themselves too many questions about what is being shown on the screen.
An understandable choice, this one by Schmied, undoubtedly. Yet, divided mainly into a series of gags that are at times a little too predictable, Love Machine suffers greatly from a weak screenplay, whose twists can already be easily imagined after only a few minutes.
Everything, then, is about the character of Georgy. And given the undoubted charisma and talent of Thomas Stipsits, the whole thing is quite satisfying. But can a single actor rule an entire feature film? In some cases, yes. Yet in Love Machine there are many problems, unfortunately. And alongside a directorial approach without too many pretensions or authorial ambitions, the real weak element of the whole operation is the script itself, being excessively fragmentary and with only a small and irrelevant subplot.
Yet, the audience, evidently, appreciated it. And this is mainly due not only to the love story, but also – and above all – to some small and successful gags where a clever self-irony makes the whole work quite remarkable. Between one date and another, then, there is (almost) always time for a waxing ‘where the sun doesn’t shine’. The important thing is to know how to avoid ‘dangerous’ situations in which distracted truck drivers can hit your car at inopportune moments or excessive doses of viagra can have very undesirable side effects.
Will our hero therefore escape from all these paradoxical situations and, at the same time, win the heart (and trust) of the woman he loves? Not an easy task, no doubt. But, perhaps, the moment one can easily get a healthy laugh, everything can suddenly seem easier. Even gaining the approval of even the most demanding spectators.
Original title: Love Machine
Directed by: Andreas Schmied
Country/year: Austria / 2019
Running time: 90’
Cast: Thomas Stipsits, Claudia Kottal, Julia Edtmeier, Barbara Schöneberger, Adele Neuhauser, Ulrike Beimpold, Katharina Straßer, Hemma Clementi, Laura Hermann, Lilian Klebow, Julia Jelinek, Philipp Doboczky, Holger Schober, Irene Schober, Markus Singer, Gabriela Garcia Vargas, Martin Max, Stefan Bernheimer
Screenplay: Silvia Wohlmuth
Cinematography: Anna Hawliczek
Produced by: Allegro Film, ORF