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by Michael Sturminger

grade: 7

The Whore’s Son is the story of a desperate mother-son relationship. A continuous chasing after each other without ever actually meeting. A love-hate relationship that can often lead to the most extreme solutions.

The eyes of a child

It is not always easy to be a child. Especially when one lives in a rather unusual situation and, while those who love us try to protect us from sad truths, there are always those who are ready to insult and judge us. Young Ozren (played by Stanislav Lisnic), the protagonist of the feature film The Whore’s Son, directed in 2004 by Michael Sturminger, based on the novel of the same name by Gabriel Loidolt and also written – together with the director – by the unforgettable Michael Glawogger, knows something about this.

Ozren comes from Croatia and lives with his mother Silvija (Chulpan Kamatova) on the outskirts of Vienna. The child thinks his mother works as a waitress, but in fact she is a prostitute and works in a night club near their home. When his mother is away, he is looked after by his uncle Ante (Predrag Manojlovic) and – sometimes – also by Peppi (Georg Friedrich), who runs the nightclub where the woman works. Ozren, however, constantly needs Silvija and will constantly look for her, whether at Christmas parties at school or at night, at home, when he feels incredibly lonely, or even when she goes to work far away, in a place he is not allowed to know.

The Whore’s Son is the story of a desperate mother-son relationship. A continuous chasing after each other without meeting. A love-hate relationship that can often lead to the most extreme solutions. The director, for his part, tells us all this exclusively from Ozren’s point of view. The camera always focuses on him and, just as he does – when he spies on his mother from his room and sees the men she invites into the house, or when, together with Peppi, he looks through a small window into a nightclub bedroom – we too gradually discover the truth.

An extreme realism, devoid of any directorial virtuosity, is one of the hallmarks of this important feature film by Michael Sturminger. A realism that shows us reality filtered through the eyes and perceptions of the young Ozren and which, often, can be very, very painful. The grey streets of suburban Vienna and the interiors of modest homes contrast sharply with the kitch decor with a strong predominance of pink in the flat where Silvija goes to work. Luxury and poverty are constantly juxtaposed in The Whore’s Son and almost represent the contrasts that our protagonist experiences every day. Hating or loving his mother?

A book depicting ancient Croatian customs and traditions. A small birthday present that can suddenly bring a smile, but also bring even greater sadness. A plane ticket to run far away. But also a furious, desperate quarrel that can lead to the most unthinkable consequences. In The Whore’s Son the objects, together with the small gestures and the innocent eyes of a child mean more than a thousand words. Michael Sturminger has managed to capture every subtle nuance of Loidolt’s novel, proving himself to be a great connoisseur of the human soul and never judging or expressing precise theories about the story staged. The story of a difficult growth path in which hope for a better future never seems to be dead.

Original title: Hurensohn
Directed by: Michael Sturminger
Country/year: Austria, Luxembourg / 2004
Running time: 86’
Genere: drama, coming-of-age
Cast: Chulpan Khamatova, Predrag Manojlovic, Stanislav Lisnic, Inka Gogálová, Georg Friedrich, Maria Hofstätter, Gabriel Usein, Emanuel Usein, Stefan Sidlo, Tamara Metelka, Robert Ritter, Susan Sozubek, Natalya Baranova, Pola Claricini, Helmut Hafner, Klaus Ortner, Dessislava Urumova, Iva Campestrini, Gerti Drassl, Lukas Wagner, Maria Schatzl, Martina Spitzer, Andrea Seewald, Andrea Morales
Screenplay: Michael Glawogger, Michael Sturminger
Cinematography: Jürgen Jürges
Produced by: Aichholzer Filmproduktion, Tarantula

Info: the page of The Whore’s Son on iMDb; the page of The Whore’s Son on the website of the Austrian Film Commission