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THE HAWK

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by Helmut Köpping and Michael Ostrowski

grade: 6

The Hawk is a bizarre, irreverent feature film with an almost TV-like style, which, through a simple and at the same time complex story, questions certain family dynamics and precarious balances that risk breaking down forever when the past comes knocking at the door again. At the Diagonale’22.

Return to the origins

Mike (played by Michael Ostrowski) is like a hawk: once he lands, he completely changes the pre-existing reality. And in the lives of Gloria (Anke Engelke) and her children, there will be many twists and turns. They are the protagonists of the black comedy The Hawk, written and directed by Michael Ostrowski himself together with Helmut Köpping and premiered at the Diagonale’22.

After being away from his hometown for a long time, Mike finally returns to Vienna after his brother Sandro (Ostrowski himself, here in a double role) suddenly falls into a coma. His arrival at his brother’s house will bring with it a series of novelties and even Gloria will discover unimaginable secrets about her husband. Can things ever return to normal?

Michael Ostrowski and Helmut Köpping have relied entirely on the talent of the cast, including, in addition to Ostrowski himself, Anke Engelke, Hilde Dalik and Simon Schwarz, just to name a few. It is up to them to make the whole feature film work, thanks above all to a series of gags and paradoxical situations alongside delicate family relationships, unsaid words and never revealed truths.

The Hawk stands out undoubtedly for its dynamic narrative structure accompanied by frenetic editing and an overall good direction, with an excessively television-like character and without any particular peculiarities. What we are watching is a fundamentally enjoyable comedy, which resembles many other feature films of this genre made in Austria in recent years and which sees its strong point above all in the excellent performance of Michael Ostrowski.

Mike is basically a man who went through all kinds of trouble during his life, to the point that he is no longer a welcome presence in his brother’s house. For this reason, therefore, the man is forced to sleep in his car, is treated badly by Gloria’s mother and is regarded with suspicion by their neighbour (Simon Schwarz). Yet, at the same time, the relationship with his nephews seems to work well.

The Hawk is, in fact, a bizarre and irreverent feature film, which, through a simple and at the same time complex story, questions certain family dynamics and precarious balances that are in danger of breaking down forever when the past comes knocking at the door again. In this regard, an open ending often proves to be the only (perhaps the simplest?) possible solution and, despite expedients that work well in a context such as this, it is at the same time somewhat contrived. What a pity. Especially because, in fact, during the screening of The Hawk one undoubtedly enjoys and becomes passionate about the story of this bizarre family. Can, then, an excellent cast ‘save’ an entire work? Not always, unfortunately. The commitment is undoubtedly there. The hawk, however, fails to take flight.

Original title: Der Onkel/The Hawk
Directed by: Helmut Köpping, Michael Ostrowski
Country/year: Austria, Germany / 2022
Running time: 105’
Genre: comedy
Cast: Anke Engelke, Michael Ostrowski, Simon Schwarz, Hilde Dalik, Elisea Ostrowski, Maris Ostrowski, Gerhard Polt, Barbara Meier, Mechthild Grossmann, Lisa Lena Tritscher, Florian Köhler
Screenplay: Michael Ostrowski, Helmut Köpping
Cinematography: Wolfgang Thaler
Produced by: Lotus Film, Hallmann Entertainment Company Film House Germany, Gebhardt Productions

Info: the page of The Hawk on the website of the Diagonale; the page of The Hawk on iMDb; the page of The Hawk on the website of the Österreichisches Filminstitut