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American Women's Club of Hamburg

Film review - Lovely Louise

Louise (Annemarie Düringer) is an elegant lady in her 80s who claims to have been an actress in Hollywood. She never leaves the house without one of her formidable hats, usually on the arm of her son. At home we see her only in her drab, old morning gown bossing around André (Stefan Kurt)who still lives with her. The couple makes a well-adjusted pair, meaning that the 50-year-old son is well adjusted, joining his mother’s water gymnastic group, preparing delicious snacks for her elderly girl friends when they come to play a round of cards. At night time he lovingly tucks her in and then leaves for his “own room”, the garage, which he has transformed to suit his needs. André builds model planes, trying them out on the airport field where he is well respected for his nifty workmanship. Apart from his planes, he takes an interest in pretty Steffi (Nina Proll) who sells sausages to the group of hobby pilots. He even masters enough courage to take her out for a drive in his taxi. But not only are they disturbed by calls from his boss but also from his mother, complaining that she is having bad dreams. Poor Steffi – or poor André? André is unable to make any decisions concerning his own independent life. When one day a stranger turns up; the cosy routine is interrupted. Bill (Stanley Townsend) claims to be his brother from America. Who is this noisy charmer calling his mother “lovely Louise” or even “mom”? At first André is only irritated but at long last wakes-up into action.  

Very subtly and slowly the Swiss director Bettina Oberli (Die Herbstzeitlosen), who also wrote the script, lets us discover the deeper character of her protagonists. Nothing is quite the way it seems to be. Lovely Louise is not as lovely as she makes us believe, André is not as weak as he thought and Bill is not as rich and successful as he says. 

This tragic comedy is a wonderful film about a son-mother relationship. The beautifully framed and long takes by cameraman Stéphane Kuthy emphasize their established and restricting personal relationship. Stefan Kurt gives his character credibility. Despite very comical situations, his André is never ridiculed. (The well established actor will be known to Hamburg theatre goers as he was engaged at the Thalia Theater for almost a decade.) This is a thoroughly enjoyable film with excellent actors. Adrian Weyermann’s rhythmic music, performed by the Aeronauten, gives it a light and positive touch. (Birgit Schrumpf)

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