email print share on Facebook share on Twitter share on reddit pin on Pinterest

AUBAGNE 2020

Review: The Goldfish

by 

- With this his first feature film, the German director of Iranian origin Alireza Golafshan puts his name to a good-natured comedy on disability and tax evasion

Review: The Goldfish
Tom Schilling (centre) in The Goldfish

Having done very well for itself in the filmmaker’s homeland, as well as earning Alireza Golafshan the 2020 Bavarian Film Award for Best Young Director, the German comedy The Goldfish is this week headlining the International Competition of the 21st Music & Cinema, Aubagne International Film Festival (organised online – read our article). At this point, we really should salute all these film festivals which are managing to unspool during the global health crisis that is Covid-19, adapting themselves to these highly complicated circumstances. And, to a certain extent, the same could be said of Oliver (played by Tom Schilling), the main character in The Goldfish who’s a total caricature of a good-looking yuppie working in finance, juggling mobile phones, meetings and Wi-Fi connections. With a penchant for Japanese restaurants, he’s ultra-materialistic, silver tongued, arrogant, impatient and forever in a rush, to the point he crashes his car at the beginning of the film and wakes up paraplegic. At which point, he must learn to get used to his new life as a disabled person and to work within his new limits and within a different environment (not to mention with different friends: his peers at the rehabilitation centre). But this is no easy thing when you’re used to receiving special treatment, especially when you’re in urgent need of getting your hands on your nest egg which is hidden in a bank in Zurich and threatened by an investigation carried out by the German tax authorities…

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

The subject of disability has already inspired a great many films which have flirted more or less openly - and by way of different styles - with the comedy genre, against a general backdrop of drama (from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest to The Specials [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
, coming via Forrest Gump, Untouchable [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
, Step By Step [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
and Aaltra, not to mention Kills on Wheels [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
). The Goldfish, however, makes no mystery of its comic intentions, injecting a wholly "cartoonesque" feel into the off-the-wall misadventures of this little, beat-up group, which Oliver (stuck in his wheelchair) tries to use as his cover to cross the Swiss-German border without incident, with his €1.2m in small bills. There’s Magda, the surly and blind alcoholic (Birgit Minichmayr), Rainer nicknamed Rainman (Axel Stein), who can only be calmed by Laura Branigan’s song Self Control, Franzi (Luisa Wollisch) who’s fixated on horses and Taylor Swift, autistic Michi (Jan Henrik Stahlberg), driver Eddy (Kida Khodr Ramadan) the online poker addict, and the kind and pretty educator Laura (Jella Haase). Cue chases, hilarious improvisation behind the wheel, luxury shopping… In a bid to safeguard his cash, Oliver manages the extravagant personalities of his travel companions as best he can, in a mix of exasperation and manipulation. But as he’s endlessly caught off guard by the group, affection soon worms its way in.

Written by the director himself, the script of The Goldfish aims for efficiency and doesn’t shy away from blatant short cuts (i.e. the camel therapy scene, the carnival/funfair popping up at just the right moment, etc.). But this doesn’t detract in the slightest from a film which never tries to be (or to be seen as) something it isn’t. The quick-fire insults are very well delivered, Golafshan’s actors play their archetypal roles brilliantly and it all comes together to form a work which is simple, fast-paced, good-natured and entertaining, rounded off nicely by Carlos Cipa and Sophia Jani’s music.

Produced by Wiedemann & Berg Film in co-production with Deutsche Columbia Pictures Filmproduktion and Seven Pictures Film, The Goldfish is sold worldwide by Beta Cinema.

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

(Translated from French)

Did you enjoy reading this article? Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive more stories like this directly in your inbox.

Privacy Policy