9 November 2000 | da critic
Doerrie approaches the German spirit
Pierre Sanousi-Bliss, the actor who plays Orfeo in Keiner Liebt Mich, said of his role that he thought it was symbolic of pre-Wende years, when "East Germans lived alone in a world they had created." Orfeo, enigmatic psychic and gay Black tenant, is five months behind on his rent, and facing eviction. He spends his days telling fortunes on the street, or alternately, asking for money to get "back to Africa" and his nights as a drag queen in a bar, where his white businessman boyfriend smugly watches him. It is not difficult to make a convincing case in Sanousi-Bliss' favor, as Orfeo definitely exists in his own world, steadfastly creating a space in which he alone can exist, both by nurturing himself and pushing others away. When his apartment is repossessed and he begins to cohabit with Fanny, his mysteries unearth themselves and the two learn to share and depend on one another, approaching deeper issues of bonding and appreciating the present time. Dorris Dorrie, the writer and director of the film, said that it addresses the way "Germans seem unable to be happy with what they have." When Orfeo compares his state of living to Fanny's it is painfully evident how much she has that he does not, including job, house, and the "right skin color." Within this visual difference of race however, is a more probing study of German sentiment. Indeed, Orfeo is discriminated against in Germany: his fellow tenants don't want him living there, and passersby are more likely to give him money to leave the country than to read their palm. But Dorrie is not simply addressing racial tensions through the character of Orfeo, but as noted above, he is symbolic of a greater struggle in the German people. This struggle is the same one that Fanny faces in a more direct way, to rectify her existence with her imaginary ideal life, and to learn to appreciate what is real and surrounds her. In their final moments together before Orfeo 'dies,' he shares with her the secret of never wearing a watch, because it is always the same time, Now. Interesting then, that several years later Maria Schrader, who plays Fanny, is playing a lesbian woman in the midst of WWII in Aimee & Jaguar. And her final words in that film? That she wants plenty of Now's. Not memories, not futures, but now, and now, and now. It seems there is some form of spiritual integrity emerging through the minds of German directors. For in the final cathartic moments of German films, the feel-good lines are telling us what Eastern religions of meditation and mindfulness have preached for thousands of years. I recently attended a lecture by Professor Muhammad Bamyeh about post-nationalism, which interestingly enough, made some similar conjectures about the emerging solidarities throughout the world. One of the four noted was the spiritual, in which seemingly disparate peoples are actually approaching similar coping mechanisms, reaction and movements to the trends of post-national identities and globalization. It is possible that in this small word, "now," is the seed of cross-cultural understanding. An American may see Fanny Fink's plight and view it only in terms of the desires and unrequited loves, a German may see the representation of her culture. But both can comprehend the immediacy of understanding the moment, regardless if the moment is one person's or one people's. In the ongoing spiritual dialogue of the film we are given two disparate approaches: Fanny practices 'conscious dying' while Orfeo is arguably more busy with consciously living, at least in the time he's got. But when these two meet, their common points are made stronger, drawing from the other and reaffirming the other as well.