Festival Review: Tough Love / Härte (2015)


From pimp to karate teacher, Rosa von Praunheim’s Härte paints a vivid portrait through documentary and drama of a life of violence after a childhood of abuse.

Man Of Steel

by Mark Wilshin


CAUTION: Here be spoilers

Well, there’s nothing more Berliner than seeing a Rosa von Praunheim film at the Berlin Film Festival. And with wonderful Berliner accents from both cast and interviewees, Praunheim brings his adaptation of Andreas Marquardt’s autobiography to life. A karate world champion in the ’70s and ’80s, Andy was also an undertaker and pimp, making a fortune with his girls on the Kurfürstenstrasse. It’s perhaps an unusual inspiration for a film, but Härte is a testament to the vicious circle of violence following the child abuse Andy suffered at the hands of both his father – left out on a balcony naked in the freezing winter to die and breaking his hand with a violent handshake – and his mother – who grooms him from the age of six in an ever-increasing list of sexual favours. Unable to escape his mother’s clutches, Andy develops a hatred of women – in turn grooming them into hookers in knee-high leather boots, juggling seven or eight women at a time – all of whom, it seems, become keener for him the meaner he treats them. Perhaps the most surprising relationship of all is that with Marion, herself a victim of abuse but eager enough to win Andy’s love and approval by working the streets for him. Comprised of interview footage and complementary black and white dramatisations in theatrical studio spaces where toilets, prison cells and Seventies wallpaper are projected onto screens, Tough Love uses both the power of documentary testimony and the emotion of drama to knit together a survivor’s tale about the psychological effects of abuse. It’s not quite sharp enough to evoke a political call to action, but as one man’s testimony to a life of violence, it’s certainly to the point.

Tough Love is now showing at the 65th Berlin Film Festival

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