Review – WINTER GUEST (“Wintergast,” Matthias Gunter, Andy Herzog, 2015, Switzerland)

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WINTERGAST || 2015, Switzerland || Drama || Directed by – Matthias Gunter, Andy Herzog / Written by – Matthias Gunter, Andy Herzog / Produced by – Matthias Gunter, Andy Herzog / Music by – John Gurtler, Jan Miserre / Cinematography by – Matthias Gunter / Editing by – Matthias Gunter, Kya Inan / Starring – Andy Herzog / Running time: 82 mins.

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“Winter Guest (Wintergast)” by Matthias Gunter and Andy Herzog (2015, Switzerland)

A filmmaker, who once looked to have a bright future ahead of himself after winning a major short film award at a festival, is on the brink of seeing his dreams and ambitions vanish into thin air as the frustration to see his feature length film mounts and time is running out. To make matters worse, his girlfriend is breaking up with him. Somehow, he finds himself working as a hostel inspector, and wonders from one hostel to the next hopelessly working on his screenplay and awkwardly interacting with its inhabitants.

Winter Guest is an interesting cinematic experimentation by Andy Herzog and Matthias Gunter. In their feature directorial debut, the Swiss filmmakers seem to recreate the impulsiveness of the road movies of Wim Wenders, and made the film leaving themselves open to any possibility that might come up as they filmed it. As such, Winter Guest is a mixture of fiction and documentary, with many of the interactions in its duration being authentic, and fruit of their encounters and discoveries in the film.

The film is shot in black and white and was made with a restricted budget. It falls in line with other Swiss deadpan comedies with a still approach, and Herzog, who also plays the leading role in the film, echoes stone-faced Jacques Tati and Buster Keaton minus the spectacularity of the stunts and plus an overall minimalism, which heigthens the power of the awkwardness of his presence, who somehow always seems to look out of place wherever he finds himself. The passivity of his character may frustrate some, and lead to some moments of dullness, but it works in perfect cohesion with the overall vision that essentially revolves around frustration and anxiety, all of which are restrained but represented quite genuinely in a film full of delightful surprises. – 4/5

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