Gripsholm | Chicago Reader

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Swiss director Xavier Koller (Journey of Hope) uses the life of German Jewish author Kurt Tucholsky and episodes from his novel Schloss Gripsholm to construct this 2000 drama about a socialist writer's last idyll before the Nazi storm. Under fire for his political satires, Kurt (the dour Ulrich Noethen of The Harmonists) leaves Germany with his girlfriend (Heike Makatsch) to spend the summer of 1932 at a Swedish admirer's baronial estate, where they're joined by two friends, an aviator (Marcus Thomas) and a cabaret singer (Jasmin Tabatabai). The hedonistic fun (a menage a trois, mushroom hallucinations, and lots of sunbathing) is punctuated by debates over the political turmoil in the fatherland and what to do about the abused girl hiding out from a nearby boarding school (a situation that obviously parallels the writer's). Despite some strong acting and sumptuous production values, the film never transcends its busy screenplay and Masterpiece Theatre gloss. The real Tucholsky committed suicide, but you'd never guess it from Koller's hackneyed account of his self-exile. In German with subtitles. 106 min.

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