MQFF Review: Tomcat (Kater)

Austrian writer/director Händl Klaus’ 2nd feature Tomcat is an unnecessarily long, narratively flaccid mess which does absolutely nothing with an interesting concept. Opting for cheap frequent nudity,  and a slew of unexplored set-ups, this is easily one of the worst and utterly pretentious pieces of cinematic garbage whose only presence on screen is thanks to the overly accommodating gay film festival circuit. Bile.

Opening with dripping pretension on period artworks and swirling Schubert symphony playing in the background as the title plates roll, we dissolve to an idyllic house somewhere in Austria where gay couple Stefan (Lukas Turtur) and Andreas (Philipp Hochmair) reside with their lovable feline Moses.

Stefan is a French Horn player and Andreas a conductor for the local symphony, the film is scored by swirling sequences of classical music and the occasional diversions into jazz. The point being this couple are supposedly artistically inclined (not that it is ever explored) within the four walls of this neat and almost sterile residence in which they reside.

It’s not too long before Stefan and Andreas are stripped of their clothes and their off indulging in a passionately sexual relationship with much attention paid to photographing both men’s genitalia in close up as if Klaus’ affinity for uncircumcised penii is an anchor point to the story. That, and their sexual liberalism when it is revealed they have sex in front of a friend which all three seem to enjoy. (Again, none of these revelations bear any relevance to the actual story)

All is running along swimmingly until, for no apparent reason, Stefan (who is having breakfast butt naked) snaps Moses neck instantly killing the puss. Make way for the next midriff shot ogling of flaccid uncircumcised penis with dead cat on table. Horrified, Andreas begins to distance himself from Stefan as the film is supposedly asking the question: Who is this man I am attached to?

Sadly, the film does absolutely nothing with the premise. Outside of Stefan wailing in his bedroom shortly after the brutal killing he has committed. There’s no real discussion or plot movement to explore the motivation into the event.

A seemingly distraught Andreas (or disinterested, more like) gets advice from a doctor to send Stefan to a therapist which, apparently, he does yet we never get to see inside these discussions nor is any depth given to Stefan at all. It’s merely acknowledged late in the 3rd act with no exploration.

A luridly stupid event at the end of the second act that renders Stefan with an injury (and another prolonged wailing sequence of which there are three in the film) is, once again, never fully explored or given purpose in this drama free sludge of a film. Seemingly, Klaus is injecting elements to bring these two characters back together but its cinematic desperation for relevance is inescapable – this is so achingly dull and not thought out.

Given that 95% of the film is confined to the house itself, you’d be forgiven for getting claustrophobic whilst enduring this 115 minute prison sentence. At every given opportunity, Klaus gets his lead naked and, if it’s not for titillation to the cinematic audience (yes, there’s boners in here), it’s seemingly because the director himself is a voyeur or z-grade soft pornographer.

As a short film Tomcat might’ve worked. As a feature it’s an outright mess that explores none of its concepts, gives no depth to any of the characters and overly obsesses on nudity to equate it to intimacy. All in all an outright failure and one that joins the list of the worst films of 2017. The only saving grace is Moses the cat who, in good sense, bows out 20 minutes in.