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by Harald Sicheritz

grade: 7

Replay is a sparkling comedy of errors, an evocative and original portrait of Vienna by night, but also the personal drama of a man who has not yet found his place in the world.

Past returns

Director and musician Harald Sicheritz has been one of the undisputed masters of mainstream comedy in Austria for several years now. In the course of his career, the filmmaker has made true cult films in his homeland, starting with Mother’s Day (1994), his debut feature, not forgetting Hinterholz 8 (1998), Qualtingers Wien (1997) and Poppitz (2002), just to name a few. Only a year after making Mother’s Day, therefore, the director tried his hand at another feature film, in which music – his great lifelong passion – plays a central role. We are talking about Replay, made in 1995 and written in collaboration with the actor and cabaret artist Alfred Dorfer, who plays here the leading role.

The story staged, then, is that of music teacher Robert Brenneis (Dorfer), who has been married to Doris (Andrea Eckert) for several years and regrets not having established himself as a musician. These regrets become even stronger when Roland Pokorny (Lukas Resetarits), a long-time friend of his who, unlike him, has become a famous singer, is performing in Vienna. Will Robert ever be able to make his dreams come true, or at least feel at peace with himself? Will his wife Doris, who works as an agent for numerous artists, be able to help him establish himself or, anyway, relax, perhaps even with a nice trip to Italy?

Replay is a sparkling comedy of errors, an evocative and original portrait of Vienna by night, but also the personal drama of a man who seems not yet to have found his place in the world. Alfred Dorfer, for his part, masterfully makes the entire feature film work, giving us a protagonist who is undoubtedly talented, but also in his own way clumsy and tormented, a perfect portrait of many artists who have not achieved the success they hoped for.

If we think back to Sicheritz’s previous feature film, Mother’s Day, we notice how Replay is a little more modest in terms of gags or, more generally, comic tricks (except, of course, for moments such as Doris’s return home, when she believes her husband has betrayed her, or the ‘fight’ between Robert and Roland on a rooftop). Similarly, here, there is no longer a discourse concerning society, its grotesque aspects, its bizarre habits and weaknesses. In Replay, everything is all about the protagonist and, at the same time, we are shown a world in which it is particularly difficult to get noticed, in which one can hardly ‘be somebody’, in which one is prepared to do anything for one’s own benefit.

Harald Sicheritz, for his part, has made an enjoyable and well-written comedy, an unpretentious comedy that is able to entertain and amuse the viewer for a good hour and a half.

Original title: Freispiel
Directed by: Harald Sicheritz
Country/year: Austria / 1995
Running time: 94’
Genre: comedy
Cast: Alfred Dorfer, Lukas Resetarits, Andrea Eckert, Benjamin Olesko, Gudrun Tielsch, Roland Düringer, Reinhard Nowak, Günther Paal, Clarissa Altmann, Wolfgang Böck, Silvia Fenz, Andrea Händler, Beatrice Frey, Georges Kern, Rudolf Knor, Walter Kordesch, Harald Sicheritz, I. Stangl, Margarete Tiesel, Susanne Wuest
Screenplay: Alfred Dorfer, Harald Sicheritz
Cinematography: Helmut Pirnat
Produced by: Fernsehfilmproduktion Dr. Heinz Schneiderbauer

Info: the page of Replay on iMDb; the page of Replay on the website of the Austrian Film Commission