By Monica Delgado

With more than twenty films, between documentaries and fiction, the Austrian filmmaker Ulrich Seidl arrived at the 72nd edition of the Berlinale. Rimini‘s premiere is part of the official competition, and although it takes the name of a city that is not indifferent to any movie buff (the birthplace of Federico Fellini), it is a portrait of an autumn character, crossed by a context political and social, as is often the case in much of this filmmaker’s cinema.

On the one hand, Rimini condenses motifs that are usually present in Seidl’s filmography. At times it seems that we are seeing some passage from Import Export (2007), his Paradies trilogy or even Safari (2016), since the stylized universe that attracts the filmmaker to compose, between bizarre, satirical and scathing appears again developed here. And on the other hand, the usual relationship between his characters and some social problems appears, such as racism, illegal migration or the poverty typical of the capitalist crisis in the so-called first world. In the worlds Seidl designs, there is an opportunity to redress indifference, though the cost is sometimes high (and consistent with the bizarre world he designs).

Rimini describes a few days in the life of Richie Bravo (flawless Michael Thomas), a once decadent singer of romantic ballads from the 70s, who makes a living as a gigolo and giving shows to female tourists in an Italian seaside resort. From the first minutes, Seidl masterfully depicts the abilities and particularities of the character, a Don Juan in his winter quarters, who has just lost his mother and returns to his hometown in Austria to accompany his father, who lives in a asylum, and that from the details of his environment and attitudes, we know that he was a member of the Nazi military.

Seild intersperses the character’s trajectory -in his search for money, in his encounter with a daughter, in his sexual encounters with older women, and in his relationship with his father-, with a series of musical moments, where this Richie Bravo leaves appreciate in all his vocal “splendour”, already as a star in decline and to build the relationship that sustains him, the one he establishes with his sixty-year-old fans. However, as the plot progresses, which is nothing more than the continuation of Bravo in his artistic, friendly and family routine, Seidl dilates the film too much, to the point that they appear as four or five musical moments, which only reiterate that as spectators we already know. The portrait that begins very well, gradually fades. The singer who becomes an antihero and a formal resolution that seems to accompany that debacle.

It is worth noting the illustration that Seild makes of Rimini, a space that somehow also synthesizes the decadent climate that accompanies Bravo’s life, a beach on the Adriatic Riviera full of snow, without opulence, and frozen in time.

Official Competition
Director: Ulrich Seidl
Screenplay: Ulrich Seidl, Veronika Franz
Photography: Wolfgang Thaler
Editing: Mona Willie
Music: Fritz Ostermayer, Herwig Zamernik
Austria, France, Germany, 2022, 114min