Release Date – 9th December 2022, Cert – 18, Run-time – 1 hour 55 minutes, Director – Ulrich Seidl
With his career far from the limelight it was once in an aging singer (Michael Thomas) struggles to raise the money his daughter (Tessa Göttlicher) claims is owed from 18 years of her father not being present.
There’s little trying to glamorise the life which former pop star Richie Bravo (Michael Thomas) is living. His career is as far from the limelight that it may have once possibly been in the 80s as it can possibly be. His days are spent drinking and occasionally dealing with residents (or rather fans) staying in his home as an Airbnb style situation, while in the afternoons and evenings he goes to hotels and dance halls which appear to have not changed in decades to belt out his equally old ballads to small audiences of elderly people. Each one backed with a MIDI-style track which begins to blend into all those before it. It’s a struggle for him to earn any money as he does everything he can to cash in on his former fame, particularly when his daughter, Tess (Tessa Göttlicher) turns up demanding the money he never paid her and her mother for the past 18 years when he wasn’t present.
While he largely follows the same unfulfilling paths, particularly after returning to town after the death of his mother, it’s interesting to see where the film takes Richard. He seems to sell opportunities to have a sexual encounter with him, although the lines between a form of relationship or general prostitution without knowledge of the man’s other career are always blurred by the encounter itself. It all further fuels the idea that the protagonist is an immensely lonely, and underwhelmed, figure. Often framed in the middle of a drawn out wide or establishing shot – undoubtedly the best shots of the film – Thomas’ well-performed central figure is clearly desperate, when briefly trying to talk to his angered daughter – her silent boyfriend always in the background – for some form of connection, however it’s something he consistently lacks; perhaps down to his barely delved into past.
We’re very much thrown into this world from the very start of the film. It takes a bit of time to properly settle into things as the events that span the run-time begin to build-up. It certainly feels as if it takes some time for Tessa to actually come into the piece, and then for Richie to properly respond to her in communicating his difficulties of trying to get thousands of euros together. Things may be gradual in terms of their build up but there’s at least enough to keep you interested, largely in terms of the ways in which the now-part-time-singer gains money and tries to cling on to his last hint of ‘fame’. It’s largely the character details rather than the events themselves which keep you engaged and interested in the piece, but as things pick up there’s certainly enough to keep you involved and allow for things to move along.
It’s as the film’s close nears and it feels as if things have come to a close in terms of the narrative developments that we get a number of scenes which don’t quite feel in place with the rest of the film. A drawn out drunken night of sexual games and conversation feels as if it goes on for far too long before leading to another set of points that begin to feel somewhat disconnected from the rest of the feature. While thinking about it afterwards and the way things are brought somewhat full circle there are perhaps some good touches they don’t completely click in the moment, and still bear something of a dent in the closing stages when thinking back.
Rimini certainly doesn’t pose itself as an engaging arc bookended by the slopes of two other acts, but it does take a bit of time to introduce its key elements and then find its way to its ending. While the majority of the film, once it gets going, has enough to keep you interested in terms of the character details and their various interactions in-between the various shame-tinged moneymaking endeavours of Richie Bravo which keep things moving along and the viewer engaged. Given a boost by a number of effective shots throughout it may not be perfect, but as a whole Rimini avoids feeling like the struggling efforts of its central character, particularly with it seeming as if he views his won actions as degrading – something which the film doesn’t put across.
It may take a bit of time for things to build-up, and then reach an ending, but in-between there’s an interesting set of character interactions and motivations throughout Rimini to keep you engaged and interested in how things are going to pan out.