Film of the Month May 2013: Man(n) sucht Frau

by May 26, 2013


Man(n) sucht Frau (Male seeking female)

First aired on WDR in 1995. 85 minutes. The brackets in the title refer to the double meaning of Mann/man. Mann means man or male as in the typical heading of a personal ad. Man covers the impersonal ‘you’ or ‘one’ like ‘brushing one’s teeth/brushing your teeth) which somehow gives the story a general touch drawing the viewer into the action – like ‘we are all looking for love’.

Chris (CW) is lonely. He stares at the world through glass – binouclars and 2 tv-sets – and talking on the phone with the tv-remote in his other hand. He is sick of one night stands and other loose relationships and wants to marry and eventually have kids in order to leave tracks from his life. The thought of marriage seems to have matured over the years and his brother and hippie-mother didn’t see it coming. They are both shocked and don’t want to hear about it. In fact, when he visits his mother to tell her that he is having a personal ad in the paper next weekend, she tells him to leave her alone.
In the ad, he is listing all his demands for his future wife. Good looking, slim, not too tall, empathic, interested in politics and philosophy etc. The list is long! Nevertheless, he gets 200 answers and tries different sorting strategies (no, perhaps, definitely not, could be, yes, envelope size …). Finally, he dates some of the women who answered his ad. One of them wants an one night stand, another has a list of demands that is even longer than his, yet another is just wrong.

Reversion of gender roles?
This TV-movie questions the postmodern distance to emotions and liberation of women: Do we really have to be like men in order to get free? The battle of the sexes is reversed in this strange dating comedy where poor Chris just wants to get married but ends up getting laid all the time. The reversion also covers (pun definitely intended) nudity. Somehow, Chris’s dates are always covered or not shown in the picture, whereas there is a lot of CW-undressedness as a metaphor (I think) for the sexual reversion and his vulnerability.

Chris is characterized through a series of hilarious scenes. Chris is a child of free love with friendship benefits and a hippie mother who doesn’t want him to say mommy. He is supposed to call her by her first name Jutta or call her ‘Genossin’ (comrade). My favorite scene is around 3.30 and forwards where he is calling all his (former) girlfriends to get a date. Mostly, when actors are talking on the phone in movies, I am not convinced – it is very obvious to me that there is no one at the end of the line. With CW it is different. Watch him trying to get a date with Gesine or his other girlfriends. Another good telephone scene is in ‘Tigeraugen sehen besser’ (Tiger Eyes See Better) at 1.00 – read CWF review here.

A view into the past
This is a snapshot of the eighties/nineties with metropolitan coolness, superficial relationships and flower selling guys everywhere. That is what Europe was like at that time. Was it like that in America, Asia, and elsewhere? You get a view into the foundation of the search for tenderness, old school ness, and back to basics.

– Helle

Christoph Waltz Fans