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SNOTTY BOY

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by Marcus H. Rosenmüller and Santiago López Jover

grade: 7.5

Snotty Boy is an extremely sharp and mature feature film, which sees its workhorse in a grotesque humour. The portrait of a world – that of cartoonist Manfred Deix, but also of those who lived through the post-war period in small towns – that never really died. At the Diagonale’22.

Young talents

The cartoonist, musician and writer Manfred Deix (1949 – 2016) was a prominent figure in the Austrian cultural scene in recent years. His personal history, his depiction of Austrian society and his brilliant intelligence could not, therefore, leave the film world indifferent. Thus, directors Marcus H. Rosenmüller and Santiago López Jover have made a feature film that is also particularly important in terms of contemporary Austrian film history itself. It is, in fact, the first Austrian 3D animated feature film, which immediately impresses with the characterisation of its protagonists, with all the details that contribute to bringing the narrated locations to life, with pictures created by Manfred Deix himself and, last but not least, with a welcome and irreverent irony. We are talking about Snotty Boy, made in 2021 and presented as part of the programme of the Diagonale’22.

Snotty Boy, then, is set in a small village in Lower Austria, with the very significant name of Siegheilkirchen, reminiscent by assonance of Boeheimkirchen, where the cartoonist grew up. World War II has just ended, yet too many still seem to agree with the theories that made this war possible. In the meantime, a woman gives birth to a child, whose name we are never given to know, but who is called Rotzbub (hence the film’s original title), brat. As the years go by, the young protagonist, when he is not at school, works at his parents’ inn and immediately begins to show an extraordinary talent for drawing, first making some caricatures of his religion teacher, then some erotic drawings depicting a young, beautiful woman working in the village butcher’s shop. These drawings are immediately successful, since some of his friends decide to sell them to other people in the village.

Snotty Boy, therefore, is a hilarious and merciless portrait of a society that seems to have learned nothing from the mistakes of the past. A society that is still extremely conservative, racist and hypocritical, where religion has always played a central role. The same society that has been attacked for years by many artists and writers since World War II. The arrival of some gypsies in the village is later a decisive factor in making people show their true nature.

The CGI images are edited down to the smallest detail. The features of the characters and their physical characteristics are very pronounced (with pimples popping out on teenage faces and buxom figures almost reminiscent of Fellini’s famous tobacconist) and contribute to their distinctive personality. Snotty Boy is an extremely sharp and mature feature film, which sees its workhorse in a grotesque humour. The portrait of a world – that of Manfred Deix, but also of those who lived through the post-war period in small towns – that never really died. A colourful, insightful, hilarious gem in contemporary Austrian film history.

Original title: Rotzbub
Directed by: Marcus H. Rosenmüller, Santiago López Jover
Country/year: Austria, Germany / 2021
Running time: 85’
Genre: animation
Screenplay: Martin Ambrosch
Cinematography: Manfred Deix
Produced by: Aichholzer Filmproduktion GmbH, Filmbüro Münchner Freiheit, ARRI Media

Info: the page of Snotty Boy on the website of the Diagonale; the page of Snotty Boy on iMDb; the page of Snotty Boy on the website of the Österreichisches Filminstitut