DAS GLÜCK IST EIN VOGERL

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by Catalina Molina

grade: 6

Good feelings and stories with happy endings are always appreciated. Especially at Christmas time. And although Das Glück ist ein Vogerl does not stand out for special insights or directorial virtuosity, it works above all because of the excellent performances of the entire cast.

Becoming better people

At Christmas, as well as towards the end of the year, one always comes to terms with one’s past and, more generally, tends to make an overall assessment of one’s life. And this can sometimes bring up a lot of uncomfortable situations, giving rise to the most disparate conflicts. Franz (played by Simon Schwarz), the protagonist of the Christmas comedy Das Glück ist ein Vogerl, directed by Catalina Molina in 2020, intended for TV distribution and based on the novel of the same name by Ingrid Kaltenegger, knows something about this.

Franz, then, is a former musician and, despite failing to become a rock star, teaches music at a school. Married and with a teenage daughter, the man will often be accused by his wife (Patricia Aulitzky) of neglecting his family, to the point of risking losing them. One day, Franz, after witnessing the death of a man in a car accident, will be constantly followed by the latter’s ghost, who will ask him to help him find his former lover. In turn, he will help him solve his family problems.

An apologia for good feelings, then, in a sort of post-modern A Christmas Carol, set in a Salzburg that serves as the perfect location with its evocative snowy landscapes and festively decorated streets. An A Christmas Carol, but also an “imaginative” reinterpretation of the timeless classic It’s a Wonderful Life, directed by Frank Capra in 1946. Franz, in fact, feels totally lost, he is not sure that his life fully corresponds to his youthful dreams, and this constant feeling of inadequacy will have inevitable consequences also on his work and marriage.

Egon’s ghost, for his part (played by Nikolaus Paryla), despite the dramatic car accident he suffered, appears to us to be the opposite of Franz: cheerful, carefree, incredibly wise and with a single purpose before leaving earth for good: to reach his beloved and apologise for a mistake he made in his youth.

These two – apparently antithetical – protagonists work overall well on the screen, especially in terms of the amusing sketches in the presence of strangers unaware of the situation. And this is, undoubtedly, amusing. And, at the appropriate time, it also moves people, in the style of the Christmas comedies that have entertained us during holidays for so many years.

What is least convincing about Das Glück ist ein Vogerl, however, is precisely a purely television character (let us not forget that the feature film in question was conceived precisely for television), which, as far as the staging is concerned, makes the film reveal contrived directorial tricks and end up looking irretrievably like numerous other products of this kind, even though some dynamics – especially with regard to the relationship between Franz and his wife – are anything but obvious and far more complex than one might imagine.

Good feelings and stories with happy endings are always appreciated. Especially at Christmas time. And even if Das Glück ist ein Vogerl doesn’t stand out for particular insights or directorial virtuosity, it actually works because of the excellent performances of the entire cast, including cameos by excellent Maria Hofstätter and Waltraut Haas.

Original title: Das Glück ist ein Vogerl
Directed by: Catalina Molina
Country/year: Austria / 2020
Running time: 88’
Genre: comedy, romance
Cast: Simon Schwarz, Nikolaus Paryla, Patricia Aulitzky, Lucy Gartner, Julia Edtmeier, Petra Morzé, Waltraud Haas, Maria Hofstätter, Stipe Erceg, Lino Gaier, Alice Prosser, Inge Maux, Sandra Cervik, Rainer Doppler
Screenplay: Christiane Kalss
Cinematography: Michael Schindegger
Produced by: Allegro Film

Info: the page of Das Glück ist ein Vogerl on the website of the Vienna Film Commission; the page of Das Glück ist ein Vogerl on iMDb; the page of Das Glück ist ein Vogerl on the website of Allegro Film