The movie

Böse Spiele Rimini Sparta

In Rimini (2022) and Sparta (2022), Ulrich Seidl followed the lives of two brothers, Richie and Ewald, respectively. When Seidl commenced this endeavour, these two tales were supposed to be told in one film – and now they finally are!

Length: 205 min
Country: Duitsland, Frankrijk, Oostenrijk
Language spoken: Duits, Italiaans, Roemeens
Language subtitles: Nederlands
Cast: Hans-Michael Rehberg, Michael Thomas, Tessa Gottlicher, Georg Friedrich, Claudia Martini, Florentina Elena Pop, Inge Maux, Georg Friedrich
Director: Ulrich Seidl
Release date: 2023

Description

In Rimini (2022) and Sparta (2022), Ulrich Seidl followed the lives of two brothers, Richie and Ewald, respectively. The former is a crooner long past his prime yet still beloved by hordes of late-middle-aged female fans who can also buy his sexual attention; the latter is a technician living in Romania and wrestling with his pedophile desires. When Seidl commenced this endeavour, these two tales were supposed to be told in one film – and now they finally are! The result, WICKED GAMES Rimini Sparta, offers a staggeringly different experience of the narrative(s). It's far more cerebral, above all a work of ideas. In the film's first, winter-set movement, the two strands are tightly interwoven, mirroring, complementing each other into a devastatingly bleak vision of lost childhood as a state of mind. The second, summer-set movement is focused on Ewald and the Spartan fantasies he lives out with a band of boys in a fortress they build, now seen as a sublimation of his father's obsession with German fascism that makes him spout Nazi songs and slogans when he barely remembers anything else (while the father of one little Spartan tries to turn the boy against Ewald by brutally ‘educating’ him to embrace evil). All of which makes WICKED GAMES a more disconcerting, disconsolate and heart-broken, but also in many ways richer version of the project. Six years ago, Ulrich Seidl embarked on a major project that he titled ‘Böse Spiele’, about three men and how mistakes made in the past can change lives forever. Two films emerged from this project in 2022: ‘Rimini’ and ‘Sparta’, which focus on the lives of two Austrian brothers who try to find their salvation abroad—without much success. But now Seidl has done something truly audacious: he has combined and re-edited the two films, and added the story of the boys’ father. The result is a monumental and controversial work about a world full of disillusionment and hopelessness, but told with understanding and compassion. In the Italian resort of Rimini, the once successful schlager singer Richie Bravo (the bear-like Michael Thomas) makes a living performing for elderly tourists, but also by prostituting himself to his ageing female fans. His brother Ewald (Georg Friedrich) lives in Romania. An engineer, Ewald tries with all his might to suppress his paedophile tendencies, but is not very successful… Meanwhile, their demented father (Hans-Michael Rehberg) languishes in a nursing home in their hometown. All he can remember are the Nazi songs he had to learn as a child. And he still sings them… Like most Seidl films, this is a challenging and contentious work that rewards close attention.