Written and directed by Helen Hegemann
Starring Jasna Fritzi Bauer, Arly Jover, Laura Tonke, Mavi Horbiger and more
Grade: One and a half stars
Atmosphere can only do so much for a movie.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t do quite enough for “Axolotl Overkill,” a German and English-language movie with fascinating characters and not nearly enough plot. Though the movie manages to be engaging at times, offering a peek into the lives of the kind of people we’d much rather read about than spend time with, there’s only so long a movie can go on without any sort of structure. Unfortunately, “Axolotl Overkill” goes on far longer than that.
The movie follows Mifti, a 16-year-old Berlinite with two half-siblings by two different mothers, a father who lives life like a teenager, and an older actress friend who does every kind of drug under the sun. Mifti samples plenty of her own drugs, gets in constant trouble at school, and falls hard for an older con woman.
Mifti, though not exactly an easy character to root for, is fascinating to watch. Fiction is full of hedonists, but she’s got a kind of dry, dark, practicality that gives her hedonism a slightly different flavor than usual. She’d make a wonderful character in an Oscar Wilde novel, and her father, half-brother and friend would make good supporting cast members. Her older half-sister is just as interesting in her own way, a worrier who tries to bring some sense of responsibility to the bloodline. If this had been a short film, I’d be happy to wander around with them.
But as an hour and a half movie that plays like a string of short films duct-taped together, it doesn’t work. There’s a nod to a metaphor that works, and a suggestion of an ending that would have probably been awesome if we’d been given a clearer idea about the motivation or what the filmmaker was trying to say.