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by David Schalko

grade: 6

Although Aufschneider stands out immediately for its television-like writing and directorial approach, everything flows in an overall linear way. Every single event, every single story of the characters are somehow connected. Often, however, also in an excessively predictable manner.

Strange stories at hospital

Hospitals, as we know, have often been chosen as ideal locations by directors and screenwriters from all over the world. Just think of the numerous television series that have thrilled millions of spectators since the 1990s. And Austria, for its part, has also somehow had its say in the matter. In this regard, the feature film Aufschneider (‘braggart’), directed by David Schalko in 2010, was initially intended for an exclusively television broadcast. Only at the end of filming, then, was it decided to edit the six mini-episodes into two separate parts, in order to give the whole thing a more filmic character.

Written by comedian and cabaret artist Josef Hader (who also plays the leading role here) together with the director himself, Aufschneider tells the bizarre story of pathologist Hermann Fuhrmann (Hader), in constant dispute with his colleague Philipp Böck, who in turn has been having an affair with Hermann’s ex-wife (played by Ursula Strauss) for several months. And while Hermann is, at the same time, dealing with the hiring of a young and clumsy collaborator (Manuel Rubey) – whom he initially dislikes but who has fallen in love with his daughter Feli (Tanja Raunig) – he does not know that, in the meantime, shady dealings are going on inside the hospital where he works, which may even have caused the death of the father of Dr Susanne Wehninger (Pia Hierzegger).

In short, many intertwining stories inevitably leading to the gruff Hermann. And if this Aufschneider, as one can well imagine, stands out immediately for its purely television-like writing and directorial approach, everything flows in an overall linear way. Every single event, every single story of the characters are somehow interconnected. Often also in an excessively predictable manner. Yet, in a work that certainly does not stand out for the quality of its mise-en-scene, the greatest peculiarity of the film is probably the performances of the entire cast. And here the comic verve of each of them finally emerges. All this makes for a parade of human types, each with their own weaknesses and oddities, from Dr. Wehninger’s habit of keeping the carcasses of her former pets in the house, to Hermann’s own exaggerated ego (particularly interesting, in this regard, is the scene – faithfully tracing some silent film pantomimes – in which we see the man chasing on foot the car in which Dr. Böck and his ex-wife are riding).

And if the detective story character somehow creates a welcome suspense, Aufschneider, in spite of everything, fails to fully “take off”, precisely because of its excessive predictability. What a pity.

Original title: Aufschneider
Directed by: David Schalko
Country/year: Austria / 2010
Running time: 180’
Genre: comedy, mistery, ensemble movie
Cast: Josef Hader, Oliver Baier, Ursula Strauss, Pia Hierzegger, Tanja Raunig, Manuel Rubey, Georg Friedrich, Raimund Wallisch, Meret Becker, Simon Schwarz, Murali Perumal, Josef Kukla, Fanny Krausz, Thomas Mraz, Adele Neuhauser, Max Meyr, Helmut Seufert, Maria Happel, Gerhard Rühmkorf, David Miesmer, Cem Angeli, Christoph Grissemann, Werner Brix, Karl Fischer, Birgit Fenderl
Screenplay: Josef Hader, David Schalko
Cinematography: Marcus Kanter
Produced by: ARTE, Superfilm

Info: the page of Aufschneider on iMDb; the page of Aufschneider on the website of the Superfilm