›› The Passenger
a film by Tor Iben.
2014 | 61 mins | Germany.
principal players: Niklas Peters / Nick, Lynn Femme / Lilli, Urs Stämpfli / Phillip, Maxim Albert / Marco, Annina Nusko / Lisa, Bastian Scheibe / Max, Stefano Lago / Model, Evelyn Marwehe / Galleristin, Torsten Poggensee / Dr Mabuse, Thary Plast IC / Transvestite, Seyit Karakayoun / Can Arslan and Peter Beck as the Theatre Director.
cameo appearance by Sinan (The Visitor) Hancili as Stefan.
Adapted Synopsis: "While searching for a condo in Berlin for his father, Nick meets Phillip, a talented photographer, and Lilli, a gorgeous dancer turned actress. With an instant chemistry between them, best friends soon find themselves succumbing to Nick's seductive charm. But what Phillip and Lilli don't realize is that they are being lured into Nick's manipulative (and deadly) game of love."
The trouble with this film is its lack of predictability, given we know from the onset that Nick has a lust for blood, having arrived in Berlin fresh from ending - literally, his prior (gay) relationship. Now under the pretext of looking for a holiday flat for his father, another killing spree is about to be unleashed upon the unsuspecting German public, with Phillip and Lilli not the only prey on his homicidal mind. Thus it's just a question of how and when the two meet their Maker and here cue Nick's confession that the stronger his feelings get for Phillip and Lilli, the closer comes their hour of death. Knowing that, writer and director Tor Iben of The Visitor fame plays on the killing theme, by way of working in many an apt literary reference; from the opening "only man kills out of hate; the animal kills out of love" words of Ken Wilber, to extracts from the Oscar Wilde classic The Ballad of Reading Gaol, including the line "for each man kills the thing he loves."
For each man kills the thing he loves in The Passenger.
Yet the whole affair lacks The Talented Mr Ripley styled tension, let alone any on the edge of your seat suspense to be a credible thriller, in spite of Alessandro Tartari and Erlandas Adams doing their best in the music department. Indeed the constant intercutting of scenes, at times presenting Nick akin to being in two places at once, will I dare say prove irksome to many, as too will the film's waiting for something to happen pacing. That Niklas Peters is a hairy hunk of a man, is all but obvious. Only no amount of nudity, including Peters' full-frontal can misdirect your attention from the pitfalls of the narrative, including a blood covered serial killer who can dispose of his lifeless bodies, often in broad daylight, without seemingly being seen by anyone.
That said, there's equally some nice touches to be had; from picture postcard views of Berlin, to the playful camaraderie between Nick and officially straight, albeit "male only" photographer Phillip, scenes that beautifully and somewhat homoerotically capture the growing bond between the two men. All of which leaves Nick's relationship with Lilli as the sexual focus of the piece, her actress persona adding a play within a play dimension to the proceedings, lines that whilst of Wilde origin, in the bland staging presented here would nevertheless have theatrical audiences heading for the nearest exit. Not that it helps when for a work that revolves around murder, his prey do not seem to put up much of a fight for their life. In short, the film falls victim to its own predictability and void of dramatic tension. Enough said.
Gay Visibility - overt.
Nudity - the full monty.
Overall - file under ... 2 stars.