Monday, February 22, 2010

Die Treppe (Germany, 2005)

Die Treppe—which literally translates to "The Steps"—is a low budget black comedy short by first-time director Dennnis Knickel, who was 22 years old at the time he wrote, directed and produced the film. (One German-language source on the web claims that the idea for the film occurred to him as a dream while sleeping on a train.) The blurb across the plastic wrap hails the film as the new cult hit in the vein of Stefan Prehn's and Jörg Wagner’s Staplerfahrer Klaus (2000), which, in all truth, is actually only half true. Yep, both are short films, black comedies and entertaining, but Staplerfahrer Klaus, a persiflage of educational safety films, is truly a bit more successful in its handling of the actors, the consistency of its humor, use of music and all overall effect. Which isn’t to say that Die Treppe doesn’t have a certain level of appeal to fans of blood-drenched, nihilistic satire, for it will, it's just that as funny as Die Treppe is, it really doesn’t have the same polish as the cult short some marketing director decided to compare it to. On the other hand, the lack of polish is easy enough to ignore since the film makes up for its deficiencies with some wonderfully inane dialogue and situational comedy that (as in Staplerfahrer Klaus) might be relatively predictable but still causes hearty laughter. Furthermore, to give credit where credit is due, it is perhaps a bit more difficult to make a funny short film that satirizes society, self-centered yuppies and dysfunctional relationships than it is to satirize educational films, the latter pretty much already being a joke in themselves.
Die Treppe begins with a typical asshole yuppie in a suit—the type of full-of-himself, low-level office worker that thinks he's God’s gift to the world but that can’t tell the difference between his asshole and his brain—throwing a hissy-fit because some cop (Martin Ihm as "Polizeikommissar Andreas Kneller") had the nerve to pull him over for drunk driving. But before the yuppie can be dragged down to the precinct, a fortuitous Mack truck does a hit & run, leaving the yuppie (Gerry Jansen as "Der Kaltblütige/The Cold-Blooded One") unscathed but the cop dead. Less fortuitous is the fact that the cop and yuppie are already handcuffed together. Being the cold-blooded man that he is, the yuppie hauls the dead cop into his Beamer and goes on home to his Sweetheart (Ariane Klüpfel as "Schatz"). Dragging the corpse up the stairwell, calling for his darling to come help him, he is suddenly confronted by "Kriminaloberkommissar Braun" (Jörg Germann), who was come to the house because the traffic cop no longer checked in after calling in the asshole's license plate.
Within the tight confines of the house stairwell, Die Treppe overcomes the poor acting of its only female and, taking full advantage of the absurd combination of a dead cop, a pissed-off commissioner, a dysfunctional relationship, a hungry cat, a hair-trigger finger, a knot-tying girlfriend, a self-righteous yuppie and a slippery floor, successfully delivers a variety of tasteless to blackly ironic laughs through some great dialogue and situational comedy before culminating to a neat end.

Short but far from sweet, Die Treppe never outstays its welcome and really deserves more attention than it has yet had.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...