2 November 2014 | dzong
Black comedy with some fun ideas but too many characters to make a comprehensive film
Early on in the film, the narrator informs us that the apartment building at the heart of "Die Ameisenstrasse" (aka "Ant Street" or "The Ant's Path") has 18 tenants, a Yugoslavian concierge, two shops, 3 children and one dog (not to mention a pair of new landlords and a crew of Polish workers who arrive later). I immediately wondered how the writers were going to introduce so many characters. The answer: with great difficulty.
There's a lot of fun ideas here....The building's tenants are an interesting slot...We've got an old lady who's a kleptomaniac, a man man obsessed with getting all the clocks in his shop to synchronize, and a bitter old woman who talks about how things were better under Hitler. When the kindly landlord dies, his nephew starts a series of never-ending "renovations" in the building bringing an infestation of seemingly unnecessary repairs, gross insects, Polish laborers and apartment hunters into the building. It's all interesting, but ultimately the director and screenwriters have too much going on for them to handle.
A cast with fewer characters might have worked better, or perhaps a TV miniseries fleshing out the building's quirky cast of residents. But with its 86-minute running time, it seems like we never really get to know anyone very well, and too many promising subplots appear and disappear without much resolution.
Having said all that,"Ameisenstrasse" is never dull and there's enough going on to keep the viewer's interest. This film was the Austrian nominee to the Oscars in 1995 (it was actually better than at least two of the films nominated that year) and was released on DVD with English subtitles in Austria around 2009. 7/10