No Hard Feelings

 

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A film that is either a success or failure according to taste.

 
No Hard Feelings

 

Born in 1994, Faraz Shariat is a gay director who with this, his first feature, hit the jackpot at Berlin by winning the Teddy award set up in 1987 for films dealing with LGBT topics. In point of fact No Hard Feelings is equally concerned with another subject too, that of immigrants and their problems, be that the threat of expulsion or the question of identity and fitting in. The central figure in the film is a young man named Parvis (Benny Radjaipour) who is gay and who lives in Hildesheim in Northern Germany with his parents who had arrived there from Iran some thirty year earlier. In creating this character Shariat was drawing on his own experience as a youngster growing up as a second generation migrant in Cologne, even to the extent that he like Parvis was subjected to a community service order which led him to working in a shelter for migrants. It is in just such a place that Parvis encounters a pair of Iranian siblings, Amon (Eidin Jalali) with whom he falls in love and Amon's sister, Bana (Banafshe Hourmazdi), who is in the process of appealing against a deportation order. All three characters are equally central to the tale.

 

This combination of themes could have made for a rich and rewarding film and, judging by the Berlin triumph, for some it is. My own reaction was very different, however, although certain qualities in the film are self-evident. The leading players are excellent and Shariat has a special gift for capturing the sensual rapport between the lovers making very telling use of close-up shots. For that matter many gay viewers will respond strongly to the good looks of both leading men and Parvis's bleached blond hair might even set a fashion craze. Younger audiences especially may also delight in the amount of partying to music that goes on in this movie.

 

The debit side as far as I was concerned lay in Shariat's refusal to build an effective narrative opting instead to put bits and pieces together arbitrarily. This style involves brief inserts that mean nothing, pointless panning shots and intercuts and moments of stylisation. A typical example of incoherence can be found in the early sequence which shows figures gathered together before we know who they are and ahead of footage which will reveal that this is where Parvis will arrive to act as a translator on behalf of immigrants. Far from being an isolated case, this disjunctive approach is so persistent that I found it a continual distraction throughout the film. It is as though the offbeat presentation comes first so that such matters as the extent to which Parvis's parents still feel more attached to Iran than to Germany and his own feelings on the subject are examined in less detail than they warrant. But it could be that Shariat's style which so put me off has its own appeal, especially for younger viewers. At the very least it can be said that anybody attracted by the material should see the film and decide for themselves how effective it is.

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

 

Cast: Benny Radjaipour, Banafshe Hourmazdi, Eidin Jalali. Mashid Shariat, Maryam Zaree, Abak Safaei-Rad, Hadi Khanjanpour, Jürgen Vogel, Knut  Berger, Paul Lux, Niles Bormann, Katarina Gaub.

 

Dir Faraz Shariat, Pro Faraz Shariat, Paulina Lorenz and Raquel Molt, Screenplay Faraz Shariat and Paulina Lorenz, Ph Simon Vu, Pro Des Katja Deutschmann, Ed Friederike Hommuth, Music Säye Skye, Jan Gunther and Jakob Hüffell, Costumes Klara Mohammadi.

 

Jüngelinge Film/Jost Hering Film Produktion/Iconoclast Germany/La Mosca Bianca Films-TLA Releasing/Compulsory.
92 mins. Germany. 2020. Rel: 7 December 2020. Available on VOD. Cert. 18.