Tomcat, directed by Händl Klaus, is a challenging piece of work that captures the often-enigmatic unspoken tribulations of relationships and what they are able to potentially survive. The film tells the story of lovers Andreas (Philipp Hochmair) and Stefan (Lukas Turtur) who live a seemingly happy and passionate life together in Vienna with their tomcat named Moses. Their relationship is, however, thrown into a sense of disarray and turmoil after a completely unexplainable act changes everything they thought they knew about each other.
Tomcat is a difficult movie to penetrate; in many ways it is both painstakingly tedious yet at the same time it broaches a topic seldom seen in cinema. The film is structured in such a way that we view the couple’s lives before and after the aforementioned event. This approach, while necessary to examine key elements of the dynamic of the relationship and, in many ways, vital to understanding it, leads to a fairly repetitive first act featuring two characters that it’s a challenge to feel invested in. The film takes an almost documentarian approach to their lives at this stage but it was a technique that can be a struggle to get along with.
After the inexplicable occurrence takes place the extremely dull first act begins to pay off, however, as there is now a stark unexpressed contrast to the couple’s reactions and in how they deal with the aftermath of what happened that is initially compelling to watch. Because what happened probably isn’t punishable at least in any meaningful way by the law, it raises some interesting questions with regards to punishment and repentance both internally and externally in what is an extremely arresting situation.
Because of the documentarian approach to the film it is up to the viewer to interpret the situation through their own lens. Because of this technique the viewer incessantly examines the couple’s interactions with each other as well as with other people and try to gleam our own sense of clarity to what has unfolded with no easy answers to be found. On another level, this film works as a testament to just how much certain relationships can endure as we watch a fractured connection try to repair itself under what surely must be one of the more bizarre set of circumstances to be found. The problem is, for such a character study, none of the couple’s interactions in anyway felt like an authentic response to the situation, which was really frustrating as it felt like the film at times was going out of its way to avoid direct dialogue regarding the conflict.
While able to understand and appreciate the film’s approach to exploring these issues, you couldn’t be excused for failing to feel truly engrossed in Tomcat. The lack of any narrative cohesion eventually robbed everything in the film’s third act of anything resembling an emotional impression. Instead, the film felt like two acts of monotony built around a truly incomprehensible moment.
Originally published on May 12, 2017 for HeyUGuys.