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‘Till the End of the Night’ review: So-So Policy With a Trans Angle

“Till the End of the Night” opens with what appears at first to be a Brechtian flourish: a gorgeous time-lapse shot of a bare shell of an apartment being painted, primed, decorated, and added to a state it seems to have lived in, as old Germany’s Heidi Brühl’s torch song crackles over the soundtrack. . However, this is not a dressed up movie set, but a police set – the main base of a detailed undercover investigation. This isn’t the first time that Christoph Hochweissler’s romantic police thriller has hinted at subversive ambitions that, upon careful investigation, turn out to be rather conventional. Throwing a fraught transgender love story in the middle of a standard cop procedural, the movie doesn’t satisfy much on either level, with superficial sexual politics and lax suspense. Despite the opportunity to compete at the Berlinale, prospects outside the home country seem limited.

The interest and mystery that “Until the Night’s End” delivers is very much present in the performance of transgender actress Thea Airey. With her solid and sensitive screen presence, she deserves a character of more complex proportions than the screenwriter Florian Plumier created for her: Lenny, a trans woman fresh out of prison, who has served half of a two-year sentence for speed of dealing. Her parole is conditional on her assisting in a police assignment to infiltrate an online drug trafficking ring run by her former employer; The apartment we see in the opening scene is the one she has to share with undercover narcotics cop Robert (Timosin Ziegler), and with whom she has to pretend to be in a relationship for the sake of the investigation.

Kicker? Before her spell behind bars – in a men’s prison, which explains her thick skin and abuse – Lenny and Robert He was Lovers, she was only Leonard at the time, and she hadn’t “pulled his dick away,” in Robert’s usual harsh formulation. Why the police officers decided a reunion would be a recipe for successful espionage is a bigger mystery than most in the film’s slow, hesitant plot. In any case, things have been antagonistic between them from the start, with volatile transgender Robert still resentful of her decision to transition, and subjecting her to both verbal taunts and physical abuse. Although they play a cuddly role in the presence of others, Lenny’s friends aren’t convinced: “This species thinks with its own spinal cord,” warns one, not imprecisely.

Their target is Victor (Michael Sideris), a formerly popular DJ now turned club owner and drug kingpin. Lenny and Robert join Victor’s salsa lessons with his drifting partner Nicole (Ioana Iacob) – an environment that displays, at least to the viewer’s eyes, the dangerous lack of chemistry between this fake couple. However, Victor gradually gets to know Lenny and the two soon become friendly again; She, in turn, makes out with Nicole, while convincing Victor to offer Robert a job as a chauffeur.

And so the game is in full swing, or it will be if the movie really has anywhere to go from here: instead, it just stops and turns, with the investigation repeatedly hampered by Robert’s brutal and irresponsible behaviour. (Rosa Inkat and Ayn Schwartz – who have unforgettably powerful 2018 rape drama All the Best – are lost in unlikable roles because his bosses are genuinely angry women. Surprisingly not terribly convincing – that there’s still passion behind it all. While Lenny struggles with this punitive attraction toward a man who, it seems, has never treated her well, Robert grapples with his confusion about being sexually attracted to a woman for the first time.

It is left to the bully Victor, somewhat implausibly, to articulate the film’s moral in this regard: “Just live it. It doesn’t have to have a name. It’s all bullshit because people need to label things.” There’s an interesting drama being built around that feeling, and it could be “Until the Night’s End” if any of its basics are believable as singles, let alone as a couple. Despite flickers of vulnerability and longing in Airy’s performance, Lennie’s psychological background seems flimsy and definite, while much rests on Robert’s oddities in distinguishing him from the one-note miserable he appears to be otherwise.

With his leather jacket and sweat-soaked, threadbare hair, Ziegler is styled as a kind of fascist anti-hero, and there’s something of a late giant of German New Age cinema, too, in the tumultuous, sadomasochistic relationship etched across his many homosexuals. lines. But despite the harsh, high-contrast grain of DP Reinhold Vorschneider’s lens, the film doesn’t delve deeply or ambiguously enough into their conflicting gravitations to deliver on that promise, and the most skewed lines of investigation are tied with a persistent, mostly predictable directness. policeman in depth.


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