Men To Kiss is
a somewhat silly, somewhat sweet comedy about a gay couple in Berlin whose
relationship is put to the test when one’s childhood friend visits.
The film begins with voice over by Earnest (Frank
Christian Marx, who also co-wrote and co-produced the film): “Everything was so promising at the beginning.”
So everything that follows is a flashback, and Earnest tells us he moved to
Berlin, got a job at a bank. We are introduced to Tobias (Udo Lutz) when he arrives at the
bank, posing as a client in order to give Earnest his lunch. Tobias tries to
pass it to him under the table, under the watchful eye of a nosy co-worker. So
that suggests that Earnest is still in the closet as far as his job goes, and
we get the feeling that Tobias will play with those boundaries. However, that
never comes into play in the course of the film.
Earnest and Tobias (or Tobi) are two different types.
Tobi is the carefree, adventurous, playful spirit, and Earnest is the more
organized and serious citizen. There is a flashback within the flashback of
them meeting the day Earnest arrived in Berlin. And though they met in a club,
Earnest tells us in the voice over, “Clubbing
is simply not my world.” (By the way, there are a couple of cute trannies
in that scene, played by Nina Queer and Barbie Breakout.)
Suddenly we see Earnest and Tobi in a camera frame.
Someone is spying on them from a van as they play ping pong, taking photos of
them. And later more secret photos are taken.
Meanwhile Tobi’s friends have become Earnest’s friends.
There is Leo, an old school friend, and Steffi, a psychologist who according to
Earnest’s voice over is as crazy as her patients (but that also doesn’t really
come into play). So Earnest is really immersed in Tobi’s world, and perhaps
feels that he is missing something of his own self.
Enter then Uta (Alexandra Starnitzky), Earnest’s best friend from childhood, who
suddenly calls him. They get together, reminisce about childhood, and Earnest
seems much more relaxed. She jokes he lost interest in her when her breasts
grew. She talks him into posing for a silly photo shoot (so of course then we
assume it was her taking the secret photos). Interestingly, she seems to bring
out Earnest’s most playful qualities (something one might expect of Tobi). So
we immediately like her.
That makes the scene where Uta meets Tobi so odd, because
it’s done in such a way as to put Uta in an awful light. So I assumed the scene
was supposed to be slanted from Tobi’s perspective, because he’s jealous. But
it’s done awkwardly, and Steffi also seems to dislike Uta. This scene feels all
wrong because our first impressions of this character were good, so it’s disconcerting,
even jolting, when other characters’ first impressions of her are so different
from ours. And then what I assumed was a dream sequence (when Uta threatens
Tobi with a nutcracker) turns out to be real. So now rather than being caught
up in the film, I am wondering just what the filmmakers want us to feel about
There’s a somewhat steamy sex scene with Earnest and
Tobi. But suddenly in the middle of it there are secret pictures being taken.
That leads us to wonder, Where exactly is this person? In the room with them?
After Tobi has a nightmare about Uta, he decides he can’t
take it anymore and calls his transvestite mother (Marcus Lachmann) to help get
rid of her. But another scene with him and Uta is really needed before he can
make a decision like that. A nightmare doesn’t count. Anyway, his transvestite
mother details a plan involving guacamole and sedatives. It’s very silly, but
also involves knocking Earnest out with a baseball bat. It gets more ridiculous
from there, when Tobi calls some other woman in to help.
Earnest is understandably upset when he comes to, and
leaves with Uta. Tobi then watches old home movies while sad music plays. Maybe
we’re supposed to feel for Tobi at this point, but he had Earnest knocked
unconscious with a baseball bat. So hell, I don’t think they should be together
It turns out that it was Uta who was secretly taking the
photos, just as we’d suspected. (Though she doesn’t seem at all the type of person
who would own a van, which we never see again, by the way.) Uta’s actions seem
unmotivated. Why does she suddenly show up? And why does she want to break up
this relationship? Is it just that she missed her friend? Or that she really
doesn’t think Tobi is good enough for him? It doesn’t seem that way. It seems
simply like crazy behavior, which ceases to be interesting rather quickly. And
when Earnest confronts her about the photos, she is cold and insulting to him.
She doesn’t try to defend her actions or save the friendship.
The movie ends with a long, pointlessly drawn out scene, which
leads to exactly the finale you expected all along.
There are some playful elements to the way the film is
presented. For example, after the main characters stumble out of Steffi’s home,
stoned out of their minds, the camera tilts with them, and we hear the sound of
a boat rocking on the ocean, which works to put the viewer in the characters’
frame of mind. And Frank Christian Marx is a truly engaging actor.
But some of the humor falls a bit flat, such as the taxi
driver who keeps asking where they want to go and has trouble finding his
keys. And there are several elements
that are introduced but not developed. In addition to the nosy woman at
Earnest’s workplace and Steffi’s supposed lunacy, there is an early scene where
Tobi creates a suggestion box (decorated with feathers) for sexual fantasies
that Earnest can contribute to (anonymously, Tobi jokes) which he will then
make come true. I actually really like that idea, but then it is never
mentioned again. But perhaps the biggest problem is the film’s tone, which is
all over the place.
Men To Kiss is
presented in German with English subtitles.
The DVD contains a few bonus features, including a making-of
titled “Men To Kiss: Behind The Scenes.” This consists mainly of interviews
with basically all of the cast members. Alexandra Starnitzky does admit that
people will wonder if her character Uta is evil or not. While saying she is “ruthless and sadistic,” she says she is
certain that Uta does love Earnest “in
her own special way.” There are interviews with some crew members as well.
Everyone talks about the comradery on this project, which had an extremely low
budget. There are some interesting anecdotes, like Frank passing out due to the
heat. There is also some behind-the-scenes footage. This feature is
approximately twenty-five minutes.
The bonus material also includes seven and a half minutes
of outtakes, and the film’s trailer.
Men To Kiss stars
Frank Christian Marx, Udo Lutz and Alexandra Starnitzky. It was released on DVD
on June 11, 2013 through TLA Releasing.