21 November 2008 | movedout
Overly familiar romantic comedy that trades on European sensibilities for a distinctively American atmosphere
In writer-director-star Til Schweiger's second directorial outing, "Rabbit Without Ears" (following a semi-refreshing "Barefoot"), he plays yet another hedonistic Teutonic cad spun round by an unlikely, socially awkward girl. It's an overly familiar romantic comedy that trades on European sensibilities for a distinctively American atmosphere.
Just as in "Barefoot" (a love story of a self-involved cad and a depressively sweet escapee from a psych hospital with an aversion to footwear), Schweiger uses the same sort of emotional modulation with a touch of transparent manipulation and a fair amount of feel-good montages to present its apparent mainstream appeal of the adorable differences between men and women. You could transplant everything here from a Frankfurt to New York setting while a Matthew McConaughey could easily play Schweiger's dapper hunk and a Sandra Bullock could slot in as his female co-star Nora Tschirner the latter being a dead ringer for the Hollywood star.
So what's a rabbit without ears but just another flaw to be overcome? Schweiger plays Ludo, a paparazzi reporter who sees his work and women as one venture. Till, he messes up and gets 300 hours of community service at a local day-care facility run by an ex-classmate, the frumpily attractive Anna (played by Tschirner) who still harbours an improbable resentment of Ludo and his teasing over 20 years ago.
But what's even more dubious is how easily these set-ups and facades drop to accommodate the inevitability of its central pairing. Ludo finds his redemption being surrounded by enamoured toddlers while Anna falls deeply into a void of self-esteem, which is to say into the arms of the obliviously receptive Ludo. It could just as readily be named "Men Are Dogs and the Women Who Love Them".
Schweiger lazily allows the strings to be seen. There are scenes so ludicrously over the top and undeveloped that questions about the writing and editing have to be raised. Characters cease to act like they were written and anachronistic scenes mar emotional pay-offs that could have been promising given the film's punchy performances and frequently wry dialogue.
Sex is fundamental to these upwardly mobile Germans, but the utter puerility of sex-faces and loud restaurant reveals aside, the understated view on sexual politics is particularly lurid. The strongly defined angular features of Schweiger augments an ability to convey quick nods of sympathetic posturing an incredibly useful tool that belies Ludo's selfish actions and blurs the perception beyond acceptable behaviour and the resulting consequences of its main pairing. Schweiger needs to rediscover the sweet emotionality of his previous film and disregard the rank superficiality of this film.