Saturday, November 10

Indien (1993)

Indien (1993) is an Austrian tragic comedy following two restaurant testers from the tourist board on a business trip. Travel along with this mismatched pair as they make their way from the capital Vienna to rural Lower Austria.

The stars of this unlikely road movie are priggish yuppie Herr Fellner and Herr Boesel, who is your Austrian equivalent of a redneck or pleb.

Both characters are played by well known Austrian stand-up comedians (You might remember Joseph Hader as the main man from Komm, suesser Tod) and in fact the film is based on what was originally their collaborative live comedy routine.

Unsurprisingly, their relationship is strained at first.

Fellner spurts a constant stream of advice and a barrage of general knowledge questions he calls entertainment. Boesel drives on wrapped in moody silence, emptying beer can after beer can at the wheel.

But when Fellner's girlfriend breaks up with him over the phone, he and Boesel find common ground  at the bottom of a beer can.

Together they abuse their status as Tourist Board employees inspecting only the alcoholic beverages of the hotels they visit. But their journey is cut short when Fellner falls ill.

In the final part of the film we watch the two friends deal with the sudden realisation that Fellner has not long to live. Diagnosed with the final stage of terminal cancer their thoughts turn towards the afterlife..

Indien is a fun movie with sombre edges. It takes a hard look and has a hearty laugh at Austrian society and even death itself.

I first watched it in religious education class of all places. I've seen it many times since over the years and though I might just know whole stretches by heart, it still bears repeating.When I miss the old country I treat myself to a dose of the very best of my countrymen's trademark dry humour.

Indien translates well and is available on DVD with English (and French) subtitles :)

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