BARYLLI’S BAKED BEANS

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by Gabriel Barylli

grade: 7

Barylli’s Baked Beans wants to be just that: a kind of universal ‘love handbook’ that shows us many possible scenarios and many possible solutions, but which, however, does not seem to believe much in a ‘banal’ happy ending.

The story of all love stories?

Whenever a relationship ends, usually no one wants to be in love again. Yet in the beginning, everything seemed perfect. Martin (played by Michael Dangl) and Maria (Isabel Scholz) know something about this. After three years of marriage they decide to divorce. But what brought an apparently very much in love couple to such an abrupt end? Writer, actor and director Gabriel Barylli tried to analyse love relationships in his feature film Barylli’s Baked Beans, made in 2011, which in an amusing and entertaining way examines precisely the relationship between the aforementioned Martin and Maria.

The two protagonists quarrel furiously. Maria flees into the house while Martin chases her with a gun. Once in the flat, the two continue arguing until two gunshots almost accidentally go off, killing both of them. Meanwhile, Andreas (played by Barylli himself) – Martin’s long-time friend – has witnessed the scene, but does not seem at all shocked by what has happened. On the contrary, almost as if he himself were not in the flat, he addresses the audience directly and lightheartedly begins to tell us how it all began, while at the same time making some observations about relationships in general.

Lively, ironic and light as a feather, Barylli’s Baked Beans is also characterised by a welcome cynicism. And it works. Particularly interesting in this respect is the character of Andreas, who has decided to have nothing more to do with women and prefers to spend his days in the company of a sex doll. It is he who will lead us by the hand through Martin and Maria’s life. It will be he, at the same time, who first convinces his friend not to start a new relationship and later tries to save his own marriage. After this, everything else unfolds according to a script that has already been written over and over again.

What most characterises this singular feature film by Gabriel Barylli is first and foremost the elegance of the mise-en-scene. The locations are essential, sophisticated and meticulously detailed. The characters often find themselves in a completely ‘neutral’ environment, be it a theatre stage or even a room in a contemporary art museum, where everything is completely white. The camera focuses almost exclusively on the actors (and here we see Barylli’s long experience in theatre). The dialogues are dense, the entire feature film relies on words and, to this end, the cast perfectly rises to the occasion. This strongly minimalist directorial approach thus proves to be the winning solution and is further enhanced by a skilful choice of music: the aria Voi che sapete cosa é amor from Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, as well as Habanera from Georges Bizet’s Carmen, but also the timeless Que sera, sera, sung for the occasion by Isabel Scholz herself, give the feature film a timeless and elegant touch.

And, in fact, Barylli’s Baked Beans wants to be just that: a sort of universal ‘love handbook’ that shows us many possible scenarios and many possible solutions, but which, however, does not seem to believe much in a ‘banal’ happy ending. Gabriel Barylli proves to be a subtle and almost omniscient narrator and fits perfectly into this very personal comedy, which amuses and makes us reflect, thus also making up for a certain self-referentiality.

Original title: Barylli’s Baked Beans
Directed by: Gabriel Barylli
Country/year: Austria / 2011
Running time: 93’
Genre: comedy, romance
Cast: Michael Dangl, Gabriel Barylli, Isabel Scholz, Sylvia Leifheit, Karin Koller
Screenplay: Gabriel Barylli
Cinematography: Edwin Krieg
Produced by: Novotny & Novotny Filmproduktion

Info: the page of Barylli’s Baked Beans on iMDb; the page of Barylli’s Baked Beans on the website of the Austrian FIlm Commission