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Saturday, July 12, 2014

DVD Review: Lose Your Head

Lose Your Head is an unusual and engaging thriller about a man named Luis who travels to Berlin, looking for a little excitement, which he certainly finds. It stars Fernando Tielve, Marko Mandic, Sesede Terziyan and Samia Chancrin, and was directed by Stefan Westerwelle and Patrick Schuckmann.

The film opens with shots of Luis (Fernando Tielve) traveling by train to Berlin, cut with shots of people at a club, while a strange, slow song repeats, “And I won’t disappoint you again.” Luis wears headphones, so the song could be there, or at the club, or both. All of this works to set the tone and the story of a young man who is somewhat outside of his element, but who wants to immerse himself – however briefly – in the action of Berlin.

While waiting in line to get into a club, Luis runs into some people he knows. But when they’re turned away by a doorman with some sort of God complex, Luis says he’s with a sexy blonde and is allowed in. That’s his first step away from what is familiar. It might seem insignificant, but what’s wonderful is that he doesn’t see those friends again. It’s like that first step away from what is familiar is irreversible. This girl, Grit (Samia Chancrin), invites him to do cocaine with her in a back room, and he is suddenly part of her world, her group. And the next day he is still with her and her friends. When in their car, he is suddenly alarmed because he realizes he’s lost his hat. No one reacts in the slightest, no one (not even Grit) bothering to even feign interest or concern. It’s a nice early moment, giving a taste of this world’s attitude. And what’s telling is Luis’ reaction to this: rather than expressing any desire to get out and look for his hat, he settles back in the seat. It’s the first bit of his identity that he allows to be changed without a fuss, but not the last.

I love how this film uses seemingly small moments like this to set things into motion, and to set tone. Later while Grit and Luis talk, we catch bits of other conversations, including one in which a woman talks about a submissive man she made crawl around on the floor, eating cornflakes. It creates this delightfully odd atmosphere – odd in as much as the odd seems commonplace. The tale is not told with excitement, but with a detachment, almost like recounting a dream that no longer holds interest.

After seemingly being abandoned by Grit and her gang, Luis meets Viktor (Marko Mandic), a strange man who gives him drugs and pushes him into the river. Luis allows himself to be carried into the lives of people he’s just met – first the woman, now this man, who seems a bit dangerous (Mandic delivers a very strong performance here). The man cuts Luis’ hair, then hands him a shirt from a locked cabinet. Anyone else might be creeped out by this – but Luis seems to crave it, to be drawn to it.

Meanwhile a man and woman are searching for Dimitri, a relative who has been missing. When they see Luis from behind, they at first mistake him for Dimitri, as the resemblance is now quite strong.

We get immersed in this unusual world fairly quickly. This film is at times tense and surprising, without straying from the world it’s created.  The film keeps us unsettled for a while, not knowing what to think about certain characters, which is how Luis must feel as well. “I want you to trust me,” Viktor tells Luis. But can he? Should he? The film takes some surprising turns, and its mood stays with you.

Lose Your Head was released on DVD on June 17, 2014 through Canteen Outlaws and TLA Releasing. The DVD includes the film’s trailer.

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