FIN FEST REVIEW: Absorbing Peter Von Kant a portrait of a boorish man getting his comeuppance

Let’s start by revealing – to no one’s surprise – that our film director subject Peter Von Kant is a categorically terrible human.

He’s a self-obsessed, hateful human who only sees other people as valuable if they can be a means to his own selfish ends. He mistreats his live-in assistant Karl, and has little regard for anyone else.

So when Karl falls for a beautiful young man, it’s almost shockingly funny at first to see this brute become a model partner to his new playmate. He showers the underprivileged, aspiring actor Amir with gifts, booze and everything he wishes for.

The audience relishes when it becomes clear Amir is hardly enamoured with Von Kant, and the man who used everyone else sees the script flipped. Writer-director François Ozon recreates Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s original film, and does so with absolutely astounding results.

Beloved at the Berlin International Film Festival and a big winner at FilmOut San Diego, this unabashedly queer film was a surprise hit with me at FIN.

A boisterous, venomous performers from Denis Ménochet is the showiest, but I actually found myself lost in the nuance and intrigue of Khalil Ben Gharbia, who plays Amir. Also of note is Stefan Crepon, who plays assistant Karl, and doesn’t speak a word the entire film. The way his facial expressions can tell us everything we need to know is simply astounding.

It’s a superbly-acted, interesting endeavour that will leave you breathless. Its single-setting location – Von Kant’s apartment – also lends itself to the isolation our title character feels at times.

Peter Von Kant isn’t a showy film, but it is one that will make you stop and take notice. It’s another feather in Ozon’s cap, and a beautiful, heartbreaking piece.

4/5 Stars

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