Festival Review: Kater (2016)


Set in Austria’s musical circles, Klaus Händl’s sensuous and delicate Kater sees an idyll of gay love torn asunder by a moment of violence.

The Fall

by Mark Wilshin


CAUTION: Here be spoilers

From its opening titles of rehearsal room paintings of naked men and dancing ladies with its slashed musical accompaniment, it’s clear that in Kater, moods can turn on a dime. Naked and blissfully in love, Stefan and Andreas exist in a kind of idyll – an Eden of plenty from which they harvest plums and redcurrants and turn them into conserves for their friends. They live there with their tomcat Moses (so named as a foundling from the pound), but their paradise is soon lost when he brings in a frozen snake. Their expulsion comes in the form of a moment of violence, which drives a wedge of anger, guilt and disgust between them. Beautifully filmed and deliciously acted, Händl lingers over every turn and every emotion, occasionally wallowing in moments better cut shorter. But with an exciting array of potential developments (domestic violence, the human propensity for cruelty, or a curious metaphor for homosexual infidelity), Kater becomes a frustratingly linear experience whose success (or failure) hangs on one’s own prediliction for house pets. Ultimately it’s a simple (if delicately told) story of crisis and reconciliation, and Kater loses its emotional logic in the second half. But with dazzlingly intimate performances from Lukas Turtur and Philipp Hochmair as well as haunting moments and unexpected surprises, Kater is an enjoyably sensuous tale of paradise regained.

Kater is now showing at the Berlin Film Festival

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