Combustible Celluloid
With: Simon Morze, Bruno Ganz, Johannes Krisch, Emma Drogunova, Regina Fritsch, Karoline Eichhorn
Written by: Klaus Richter, Nikolaus Leytner, based on the novel by Robert Seethaler
Directed by: Nikolaus Leytner
MPAA Rating: NR
Language: German, Czech, with English subtitles
Running Time: 117
Date: 07/10/2020

The Tobacconist (2020)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Blowing Smoke

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Set in Vienna in the 1930s, around the time of the Nazi occupation, The Tobacconist tells the coming-of-age story of Franz (Simon Morzé), who is sent by his mother to live and work with the title tobacconist, Otto (Johannes Krisch). Franz learns the ins and outs of the shop, and it's not long before Otto gets into trouble by refusing to serve a Nazi. Meanwhile, Franz meets Prof. Sigmund Freud (Bruno Ganz), when the professor buys and then forgets two boxes of cigars. Even though the professor is very busy and makes a lot of money, Franz keeps bothering him for help with his own problems. They are largely related to the pretty Bohemian Anezka (Emma Drogunova), with whom he has fallen in love, and spends most of the movie whining about it. Directed by Nikolaus Leytner, and based on a novel by Robert Seethaler, The Tobacconist looks amazing, and has a sensuous quality, from its appreciation of fine cigars to its adoration of Anezka's endearingly imperfect teeth. It's easy to like it, but its story also feels a bit forced, a bit false. The moment Franz boards the train to Vienna, three cute young women flirt with him, so it's not as if he couldn't find someone else, and it's hard to get behind his heartsick longing. Also, his meeting with Freud is too much of an accident, a coincidence, for them to become such strong friends; it never feels genuine. Everything else falls into place much as you'd expect. At least Ganz, in one of his final roles, makes a lovable Freud.

The movie will be available July 10, 2020 as part of Kino Marquee. Clicking on this link and buying a "ticket" will benefit my local Balboa Theatre during the COVID-19 crisis.

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