Monday, July 26, 2010

Heiner Carow - Coming Out (1989)

Cited as the first and - so far - only gay themed film to emerge from East Germany, Coming Out was filmed on location in East Berlin, premiered on November 9, 1989 (the night the Wall came down), and won the Silver Bear Prize the following year at the Berlin Film Festival.
Its historical context is its great claim to fame, however, as even though it is a competent depiction of East German (gay) life in the late eighties, it fails to explore any real new territory thematically and dramtically, and had it been filmed elsewhere and premiered on a different night, Coming Out would probably have never have crept into the worldwide video and DVD scene at all.
Typical themes of guilt-ridden angst surface from the very first scene when teenaged pretty boy Matthias (Dirk Kummer in his screen debut) is wheeled into the hospital after failed suicide attempt. Young Matthias’ tearful self-hatred sets the stage for Matthias Freihof’s feature debut as Philipp, a sexually conflicted high school teacher, who embarks on an ill-fated affair with the troubled Matthias.
Although the subject matter is hardly revelatory, the film does well by leaving Philipp’s situation without final resolution. Heiner Carow flirts with Philipp’s character without delving into deeper levels, requiring the viewer to make assumptions. While Philipp helps defend one gay man on a subway (leaving facial bruises that mysteriously disappear after one scene), he flees another similar situation.
Coming Out contains a great little other-story in the form of an elderly man in the underground gay bar who spills his life story about Nazi persecution and Soviet rules and regulations after downing half a dozen shots of brandy. Even the gay men parading freely in the underground bar hide their addresses and keep their identities secret out of habit - it’s a long life of loneliness, according to the old man.

eng subs:
no pass