“If everything wasn’t so shitty, it would actually be quite funny,” says Matthias Brandt at some point in this chamber play. The sentence sums up the cursed and slowly fading year well. And with that he also sets the tone for the film short circuitwith which the production company “Bildundtonfabrik” presented to the exhausted audience at the end of the year on behalf of WDR. The Bildundtonfabrik provided appearances in the 2022 program year with the comedy series King of Stonksthe Carolin Kebekus Showalso through a Qatar documentary by the journalists Julia Friedrichs and Jochen Breyer.
Now this comedy pearl at the end of the year: almost half an hour in which a lot of what makes people special is exhibited. His being overwhelmed, his need for love, his penchant for posing, and the hopelessness in which he fundamentally brings himself. So, in a small space, everything is at stake. And all this is described in the tragicomedy by director Erik Haffner in a language that does not allow for any sloppiness, the book by Claudius Pläging and Max Bierhals sets standards, because despite all the precision, the whole thing seems wonderfully casually told and played by Matthias Brandt and Anke Engelke . short circuitIt is their first joint work. and short circuit is an event.
Why is? Half an hour before New Year’s Eve, Bettina Maurer (Engelke), mayor of the small town of Moosbach, meets the Berlin businessman Martin Hofmann (Brandt), who is walking with his legs apart in the anteroom of the Moosbacher Sparbank branch. Her bank card got stuck in the ATM, she pulls a hairpin out of her bun hairdo, which he wants to use to bring the card back to light, which doesn’t work. Instead, with his poking, he causes a short circuit that appears to be larger and more fundamentally widespread, which not only paralyzes the ATM for good, but also permanently closes the fully automatic door of the bank branch. The two are trapped, only half an hour until New Year’s Eve, and they both have important things to do. Bettina has to press a button at midnight to start the city’s central fireworks display, because from this year on there will no longer be any private fireworks in Moosbach. And Martin? Well, Martin has to go to his daughter, “she’s lying around at a party totally drunk”.
When will it be on TV: not a single stupid sentence
So the countdown is ticking down, in real time. And those inside make eye contact with those outside because the smartphone was stolen by a drunk, someone keeps staring at them like a zombie, a dealer, a prostitute, a drunk, but nobody can save them, and so Bettina and Martin are completely alone, observed only by the anonymous watchdogs behind the surveillance camera, who would be impressed by waving or yelling – but no one knows whether they are really on duty on New Year’s Eve.
The two of them in the bank have no choice but to get involved with each other in their forced community, and it actually turns out that they have known each other from the old days, when Martin Hofmann was still the dumbass. And Bettina Maurer was Bosom Betty. It’s been a long time, but some things never go away. “Once a fool, always a fool,” says Hofmann after trying to throw the rubber tree and flower pot from the inside through the bulletproof glass of the security door.
One would expect a gradual convergence of the caged, two against the rest of the world, but what is to be expected is boring. Because when people get closer, their affection doesn’t automatically grow, only people who think life is predictable believe that. In fact, closeness between people creates knowledge, and knowledge then occasionally creates distance, which is the opposite of closeness. So it turns out that the woman sitting out there in Martin’s SUV, not really waiting for him, isn’t his wife at all, nor is he his daughter. Who or what is this woman?
Martin: “Escort girl.”
Bettina: “Yes, some people do lead casting on New Year’s Eve. The others hire a prostitute.”
Martin: “Nobody still casts lead these days. Isn’t that even forbidden?”
Bettina: “You can also do it with tin. That’s allowed. And what’s the difference anyway?”
Martin: “Between tin and lead?”
Bettina: “No, between a prostitute and an escort girl.”
The high art of communication: If you talk past each other, you really get in touch with each other. As for dialogue quality, short circuit on – to stay with the image – fireworks set off by the authors and actors. When will it be on German television: In half an hour not a single skewed, not a single boring, not a single stupid sentence.
The rhino keeps walking in the desert until it meets the giraffe
Those locked in the bank gradually enter the fatalistic phase, and, speaking of fate, Bettina hands out fortune cookies on New Year’s Eve. The note in her copy reads, “When one door closes, another opens.” Then Martin says: “Maybe my biscuit says where the new door is.” But his cookie only says: “The rhino goes into the desert until it meets the giraffe.” And that doesn’t do you any good, at least when you’re locked in the bank and don’t have a rhino at hand.
In the end they count – four, three, two, one – to midnight, and the two victims of technology, betrayed by telephony and ATMs, are ultimately helped by technology, and then a lot of things come together. Even the bank’s advertising brochures are rounded into funnels from which one can drink. Then it also becomes clear who is sticking to the tradition of pouring lead, then the drunk even brings back the mobile phone. “I threw up on it and luckily it fell down the toilet and now it’s like new again.” He hands it over to Bettina, who says: “A New Year’s miracle”.
Where every sentence is in the right place, this is of course also in the right place. Because this whole film is a New Year’s miracle: as sentimental or cheerful, as sobering or full of promise as New Year’s Eve.
Short circuit, The First, 11:30 p.m.