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A LITTLE LOVE PACKAGE

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by Gastón Solnicki

grade: 8.5

A Little Love Package is a film made of pictures, flavours, sensations. The taste of a boiled egg at breakfast eaten by Nikolaus, owner of Café Weidinger. Stunning images of a drone filming distant lands. A visit to the museum. A brief return to one’s home country. A loving homage to the beautiful Vienna, presented to us almost as a timeless place by Gastón Solnicki. At the Berlinale 2022.

It’s a wonderful, wonderful Life

Café Weidinger, located in the Ottakring district, is one of Vienna’s oldest cafés (declared a UNESCO World Heritage in October 2011). In a nutshell: one of the many symbols of the city of Vienna, where citizens usually spend their time for a quick lunch, meeting someone over a cup of tea or even simply reading the newspaper while having breakfast. Until 2019, by the way, smoking was still allowed in these cafés. With the enactment of the smoking ban, an era is practically over. Starting from this event – and, indeed, from Café Weidinger – director Gastón Solnicki made the feature film A Little Love Package, which had its world premiere at the Berlinale 2022 in the Encounters section.

Angeliki (played by Angeliki Papoulia), therefore, wants to buy a house in Vienna. Her interior designer Carmen (Carmen Chaplin) takes her around the city to visit different houses, but she is never really satisfied. Carmen wonders why she is so reluctant to spend her own money and why she is always unhappy. Will Angeliki finally find what she wants?

A Little Love Package is a film made of pictures, flavours, sensations. The taste of a boiled egg at breakfast eaten by Nikolaus, owner of Café Weidinger. Stunning images of a drone filming distant lands. A visit to the museum. A brief return to one’s home country (probably Malaga, where the entire Chaplin family, which, together with Carmen, appears briefly in the film, currently resides). The voice of writer Mario Bellatin acting as narrator. An important discourse on music (also an important component of Vienna’s history), but also on generosity and the importance of taking responsibility.

Gastón Solnicki involves many elements and often presents them to us in an excessively fragmentary way, as if each of them were almost part of a separate discourse. Objects, places and details are highlighted by the camera often one by one. And so, immediately, we think back to the beautiful documentary Introduzione all’Oscuro, directed by Solnicki in 2018. In that case, many objects contributed to building the identity of the protagonist (the late Hans Hurch, the Viennale’s long-time artistic director) as if they were many pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. In this newest feature film by the director, however, the various parts of the discourse often seem disconnected, almost as if each wanted to follow its own path. For this reason, A Little Love Package might seem like a decidedly difficult film. And yet, the common thread is there, and it represents first and foremost the loss of one’s own certainties, the end of a tradition that could also mean the loss of identity. Nothing is the same since life in Viennese cafés is regulated by strict prohibitions. One almost has the feeling that the protagonists themselves live ‘half a life’. What if, in a hypothetical future, everything could go back to the way it was?

The director thus imagines an ideal future, one in which all the characters in the film meet to spend a pleasant evening together, eating, drinking, chatting and even smoking. The notes of Black’s Wonderful Life contribute – along with a warmly coloured cinematography that almost reminds us of a dreamlike scene – to make the whole thing particularly poetic and evocative. A loving homage to the beautiful city of Vienna (itself highlighted by striking shots at sunset, as the underground train skirts the Wien stream), presented to us, in this little and precious A Little Love Package, almost as a timeless place.

Original title: A Little Love Package
Directed by: Gastón Solnicki
Country/year: Austria, Argentina / 2022
Running time: 81’
Genre: comedy, romance
Cast: Angeliki Papoulia, Carmen Chaplin, Nikolaus Weidinger, Mario Bellatin, Han-Gyeol Lie, Ernst Skarpil, Daniel Margulies, Michael Chaplin, Dolores Chaplin, Pedro Colletta, Alma Sutterlüty
Screenplay: Gastón Solnicki
Cinematography: Rui Poças
Produced by: Little Magnet Films, Filmy Wiktora

Info: the page of A Little Love Package on the website of the Berlinale; the page of A Little Love Package on the website of the Austrian Film Commission; the page of A Little Love Package on iMDb