Nagel is sort of like a cross between a character from a William Boyd novel and
Ab Fab’s Patsy Stone. Technically,
she is in a war-torn Middle Eastern country as a contractor for the UNHRC, but
she prefers to stay in her hotel suite, drinking and doing copious amounts of
cocaine with a local gigolo. Granted, it is quite problematic, but our UN dues
have funded worse crimes than the reckless hedonism Nagel pursues in Isabelle
Stever’s The Weather Inside (trailer here), which screens as the opening
night selection of KINO! 2016, the German Film Festival in New York.
border is closed and a cease-fire is supposedly imminent. For those who make a
living off war, like Nagel and the foreign correspondents she disdains,
business is at a standstill. The refugee camps are literally empty, which is
terrible news for Nagel. To fulfill her pet project, she needs a teenage girl
to award a European scholarship to, but unfortunately there do not seem to be
any around. When she finds one, she does not waste her time doing a lot of due diligence.
She prefers to imbibe with Alec, an aspiring kept man. However, the party comes
to a screeching halt when Nagel’s scholarship student suspiciously disappears
in the Paris airport.
Nagel’s new supervisor starts turning up at her suite, obviously unamused by
the rock-star wreckage she finds therein. Management also starts demanding
payment for the damages, putting a crimp on her finances. The shelling
continues as well, not that she notices it anymore.
self-indulgent, self-destructive, degenerate, narcissistic behavior would be laugh-out
loud hilarious if it were not so likely true-to-life. There is a whole lot of
NGO-UN sausage-making in Weather,
with precious few sausages to show for all the expense. In all honesty, nobody will
be appreciably worse off if Nagel is finally dismissed, which shouldn’t really
Furtwängler is absolutely an
awesome spectacle bottoming out as Nagel. It is amazing how low she can go, but
there is nothing shticky or effected about her performance. At times, she is
almost a shuffling zombie-like shell of a person. Frankly, after the first
thirty minutes, drugs, booze, and gigolos do not look so fun anymore.
Furtwängler is a force of nature in
Weather, but Stever’s screenplay also
totally nails the dysfunctional dynamics of bureaucratic organizations with
unclear lines of supervision and responsibility. Perversely, Nagel would be
dashed difficulty to get rid of, if her boss were so inclined, which indeed she
is. The film is further enriched by numerous sly supporting turns, including
Jim Broadbent as the slightly dodgy British ambassador and Barbara Bouchet
playing an exaggeratedly clueless version of herself (hopefully). However,
Mehmet Sözer’s Alec is so sleazy and exploitative,
it is hard to fathom how any amount of drugs and alcohol could convince Nagel
to assume the role of sugar mommy.
When it comes to trashing hotel rooms, Nagel and Alec are up there with
Keith Richards. The jaw-dropping results are almost surreal. Although Nagel has
plenty of hard-partying, work-slacking forerunners, including Hunter S. Thompson
and Jayson Blair, Furtwängler and Stever raise it all to a level of existential purity. Highly
recommended, The Weather Inside screens
Thursday (4/7) at the Landmark Sunshine and Saturday (4/9) at the Cinema
Village, as part of this year’s KINO!
Labels: German Cinema, Jim Broadbent, KINO '16