Tomcat review: handheld camerawork with a thriller edge

12th May 2017

An indescribable act of madness flummoxes the otherwise passionate and loving relationship between Viennese couple Stefan and Andreas. It is this one moment that disrupts their lives in a way that nobody could have seen coming.

Set in a beautiful vineyard, Stefan (Lukas Turtur) and Andreas (Philipp Hochmair) live and work together in complete harmony with their cat, Moses, a feline creature who receives many camera angles and panning of his own to imply the importance of his character to both protagonists. Their relationship is perfect; there are no arguments, no jealousy, nothing to complain about, and their passion is plain to see.

Their love for Moses is absolute; he is forever being stroked and caressed, played with and fed yoghurt from Stefan’s fingers. They call him a miracle as he landed on their doorstep without a trace of his past owners. Perhaps he was sent to them in some way, just as fate always plays a role in people’s lives.

Suddenly, it all changes. The shock of Stefan’s act is incredible as it comes, seemingly, from nowhere. The act itself leaves a palpable tension for the rest of the film – not only between the protagonists, but for the audience too as Stefan becomes a character who is deeply chaotic, hurt and unpredictable.

He screams uncontrollably, cries out in pain and torment for the act that he committed; he cannot fathom the why and the how, just that it has happened and now his love, Andreas, cannot bear the sight of him.

The two men move to opposite ends of their home, neither one leaving those four walls which becomes questionable because Stefan’s act was a heinous doing, thus creating more queries about the nature of the act. They play pretend in front of their orchestral friends at work but, behind closed doors, Andreas becomes brutal towards Stefan in such a way that creates sympathy for the first wrongdoer. Stefan is just as hurt as Andreas is. Neither of them understand what has happened.

Stefan is physically hurt when he falls from a tree which brings the two closer together again, thus illustrating how unconditional love for a person is so strong despite the torment and hurt that a horrendous act can cause. However, the journey back to the beginning has only just begun, both for Stefan’s health, and for his relationship with Andreas.

As a whole, the film portrays how one act can determine the rest of someone’s life and the complex view of oneself through the eye of another. It also brings into question the sometimes uncontrollable nature of one’s mind and the after effects of what a split second can do. It is a tense film from the beginning – at first through the indescribable passion between the two men; then as their entire world shatters around them.

The music reflects and connotes this tension – especially effective as both play fundamental roles in their orchestra, thus reflecting them as characters – at specific intervals from beginning to end: a staccato rush is prominent. Handheld camerawork also helps illustrate the intensity of the film and gives a thriller edge to it.

As a drama, it is well worth the watch although in parts it is too long as if to drag out the inevitable.

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