My grandmother was always very picky and turned down every suitor. They were either too short, their jackets didn’t fit properly, their smiles were crooked, or they just didn’t have enough charisma. She ended up marrying an average-looking mama’s boy who wasn’t capable of meeting responsibilities…but hey, at least he had a sailboat! And this was, supposedly, a really big deal for my grandma; she agreed to marry the guy, gave birth to two girls, and led the charmed life of a suburban Polish housewife. Then, one day, she just up and left the house, taking my aunt and mom with her, adn never came back. This was in the 1950s in what was still a very catholic and coservative country, so you can safely conclude that my grandma is pretty badass.
Now, 50 years later, she never talks about her ex-husband. She wiped his face from her memory together with their common belongings and family photographs. Grandma officially kept his surname, but always uses her maiden name to introduce herself.
I often wonder what went wrong between those two. Was it just the facade of the sailboat and the fancy parties my grandmother fell for? Or did they have too much? Maybe the whole relationship was too intense and draining…my mom once told me that she remembers her parents throwing plates and cutlery at each other. But, come on, my mom was two when my grandmother took her hand and left the family house, so her memories can’t really be trusted. Maybe there was just so much tension between my grandparents that even the sailboat couldn’t fix their marriage.
I’ve got a love-hate relationship with romantic film stories. I appreciate them for their comforting predictability, but they are usually just too cheesy and obvious. But, hey, I’ve finally found a love story that is fresh and full of energy. Go and see Love Steaks (2013) by Jakob Lass, a very funny and light story about how the opposites attract, and how love yanks us out of our comfort zones.
The story is, on the surface, pretty stereotypical. We’ve got a familiar location (a luxurious hotel) for two characters who are as different from one another as you can imagine. The guy, Clemens (Franz Rogowski) is a shy, nature-oriented, peace-searching masseur who likes to play with his clients’ body energies, abstains from alcohol, and performs primitive African rituals. Lara (Lana Cooper) is a hotel cook with alcoholic tendencies and a super-cheerful attitude towards life. Together, Lana and Clemens perform ritualistic immolations of an abandoned boat (not a sailboat, but close enough), and generally push each other’s buttons.
What makes the story so great is its energy, rawness and immediacy (like the titular ‘steaks’). Lass hired two professional actors but put them in a hotel environment with real staff. He also gave the actors just a sequence of scenes to follow, but generally depended on the improvisation and creativity of the crew. The result is original, believable and funny. I’m telling you: throw out all the Sandra Bullock and Jennifer Aniston swags and order Love Steaks instead.
You’ll enjoy this movie if:
- romantic comedies usually make you throw up in your mouth…but you still watch them from time to time.
- you’re strangely drawn to New Age types and to people who live over the edge…and you want to watch these two types have a head-on collision
- you enjoy bittersweet humour with just enough sugar to satisfy your sweet tooth, but also with a pinch of salt to prevent nausea.
Directed by: Jakob Lass
Written by: Jakob Lass, Ines Schiller, Timon Schaeppi, Nico Woche
Genre: Mumblecore Romcom
PS Sorry I was late this week. My brother came to Paris for a visit. So I just focused on entertaining him for a bit. :)