As a triangular story between the two ends of Langstrasse and Zurich’s Gold Coast, Lorenz Merz’s new film explodes on the screen. The Swiss entry in the competition of the Locarno Film Festival wants great love and wild life: “Soul of a Beast”
A frenzied motorcycle ride over all the red lights of the Zürcher Landstrasse sets the pace at the beginning of “Soul of a Beast”.
Gabriel (Pablo Caprez) has hung up on the roller board, his best friend Joel (Tonatiu Radhzi) is the mad driver; pure, jubilant life wins in this game with death. The journey is repeated towards the end of the film. This time death wins.
Langstrasse meets Gold Coast
The constellation of “Soul of a Beast” follows the eternal planetarium of the cinematic melodrama. Gabriel is no longer as free as he would like to be. In the long street apartment he looks after his little son Jamie, whom he fathered with the mentally disengaged Gold Coast Princess Zoé (Luna Wedler). But she is lying in bed in her mother’s palace and has lost the ground under her feet.
Zoé’s angry mother is a newscaster and explains the world to the world on TV24 – in French. She is played by Lolita Chammah, the daughter of Isabelle Huppert. The film also has a Japanese narrator who speaks impressive manga sentences about the images, Zurich looks like a dirty Tokyo.
The drama breaks out when Gabriel falls in love with Joel’s new friend Corey (Ella Rumpf) at first sight, after the three of them free zoo animals, including a pair of cougars and a giraffe, in a nocturnal mescaline frenzy.
If this is sometimes reminiscent of David Lynch’s “Wild at Heart”, it is because that film does not tell any story, but rather aims to be essential cinema – like Wong Kar-Wai’s “In the Mood for Love”, like the Indian melodramas, which Gabriel conjures up once and, like the mangas and wuxia swordsman films, evokes “Soul of a Beast”.
A dramatic daydream
Corey explains to Gabriel that she is in love with her in a few sentences: He triggers a feeling in her that she has always had since childhood. A feeling that there is no time, that she can do anything, that anything is possible.
That is the heart of “Soul of a Beast” – or the soul: that great, painful longing that the cinema is always looking for, the dramatic daydream, the intoxication, the crash that turns into a high-altitude flight.
Lorenz Merz and his many fellow artists succeed almost consistently with “Soul of a Beast”. Not only the pictures and the montage fly and rustle, but also the music unfolds its magic in the form of classic Hollywood strings. Only to then fall completely silent again to the silence in the forest, which allows the rather great sound design of this film to really come into its own.
Kitsch, crashes and overdrive
The young and wild ones are getting older too. Lorenz Merz, born in 1981, recognizes with “Soul of a Beast” the cinematic essence of our dreams and fears. This film is at the same time a work of art in its own right and the sum of everything that has led to it. And that includes the kitsch, the crashes and the overdrive, even the lengths and the repetitions.
“A lonely child only has his imagination,” the Japanese voice once said. When the child is no longer a child, they still have the memories. The own. And those made, given by the cinema.
The soul of this beast is the cinema itself.