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by Florian Flicker

grade: 7

No one is really innocent or completely guilty in Hold-Up. Or, better still, each of the three characters is both victim and executioner at the same time. And this feature film by Florian Flicker stands out above all for its good screenplay, thanks to which moments of tension cleverly alternate with much more light-hearted scenes.

In the old tailor shop

One robber. Two hostages. A small tailor shop. A single location for a story that enthralls the audience from the very first scenes. This, then, is Hold-Up (original title: Der Überfall), a tragicomedy made in 2000 that, in its time, brought young director Florian Flicker – who sadly passed away in 2015 – finally into the limelight.

Filmed on a rather low budget, Hold-Up focuses on three characters. First, we have Andreas Berger (played by Roland Düringer), a divorced, jobless man who can neither pay alimony to his ex-wife nor buy a birthday present for his son. His predicament leads him to organise the robbery of a small supermarket wearing a wig with red curls and taking advantage of Carnival to go unnoticed. The man, however, once the time comes to pull out his gun at the cash desk, will not have the courage to go ahead with his plan and, leaving the supermarket in a hurry, will take refuge in a small tailor shop, taking both the tailor and a customer there hostage.

At this point Josef Böckel (Joachim Bißmeier), the owner of the small tailor shop, also comes into play. And after him comes Werner Kopper (Josef Hader), a customer who, momentarily in the back room, initially tries to alert the police, before he too is discovered by Andreas.

Three characters, then, for three distinct personalities that gradually take on more and more facets as the drama progresses. With lots of (not too) unexpected role reversals. And if, deep down, Andreas is a kind-hearted man who, in spite of everything, would not hurt anyone, new situations soon reveal the true nature of the other characters, from supposed ‘sisters’ who pass by the shop to bring mysterious gifts, to unsuspectedly violent temperaments.

Yet, no one is really innocent or completely guilty in Hold-Up. Or, better still, each of the three characters is both victim and executioner at the same time. And if, among all of them, it is probably Werner Kopper the most “innocent”, one cannot fail to recognise in Florian Flicker’s film a good screenplay, thanks to which moments of tension alternate well with lighter scenes capable of bringing a smile to the spectator’s face and even moments that take place exclusively in Andreas’ mind.

The most difficult thing, however, when trying to bring a work like Hold-Up to life is the ability to exploit mainly a single location (in this case, the cramped backroom of the tailor shop). But this difficulty, in this case, is never perceived by the audience and, on the contrary, everything flows very quickly, with plenty of dialogue and short action scenes as the absolute protagonists.

Let us agree: Hold-Up is a film that – although quite enjoyable – leaves some questions to be answered. And this concerns above all some of the script’s twists and turns as we approach the end, with moral choices that are at times difficult to understand. But too bad. In its time, this film helped to establish Florian Flicker’s name on the national film scene and ended up becoming a true cult.

Original title: Der Überfall
Directed by: Florian Flicker
Country/year: Austria / 2000
Running time: 84’
Genre: comedy, action, drama
Cast: Roland Düringer, Josef Hader, Joachim Bißmeier, Birgit Doll, Sonja Romei, Valentin Frais, Ulrike Beimpold, Klaus Ortner, Klaus Händl, Margarete Tiesel, Roswitha Soukup, Johanna Tomek, Ina Halmagyi, Thomas Freudensprung, Michael Tanczos, Carmen Loley, Matisse Mazur
Screenplay: Florian Flicker, Susanne Freund
Cinematography: Helmut Pirnat
Produced by: Allegro Film

Info: the page of Hold-Up on iMDb; the page of Hold-Up on the website of the Allegro Film