When a man who is hired to break-up relationships gets caught up in the fallout of his handy work, he starts to re-examine both his career choice and his thoughts on love. Check out my review of the German Box Office smash hit Break-up Man after the jump.
Paul (director/actor, Matthias Schweighöfer) is in the relationship business. Paul doesn’t do the flowers and love side of things; rather he works for a company which deals exclusively in the ending of relationships. Can’t get the guts to tell your once-loved one that it just isn’t working any more? Then you only need to call the break-up agency and Paul will do the dirty work for you. Paul is the agent’s most successful employee, and is only a handful of break-ups away from the magic 1000 mark – achieving this number will see him made a partner at the agency.
Everything is on-track until Paul is hired to break-up the relationship of one of the partner’s daughters. Paul is sent to her house to confront Toto (Milan Peschel) and end what Toto thinks is the perfect relationship. Unlike other break-ups this one doesn’t go smoothly, and Paul is unable to rid himself of the very distraught Toto. In trying to get away from Toto, Paul attracts the attention of the Police and loses his license. What’s he to do? He has a week to break-up the relationships needed to get up to the magic number to become a partner, but he is unable to drive and he has a crazy guy harassing him. The solution? Toto becomes Paul’s driver – if he can’t get rid of him he may as well be useful. And so the two set off for a hair-brained adventure of break-ups and mishaps around Germany.
Break-up Man was an absolute smash hit in Germany, earning close to $US25 million dollars at the box office (the 3rd highest total so far in 2013), and it’s easy to see why. This easy-watching film is a fun mix of slapstick humour, love and an odd couple road-trip adventure. The pair of Toto and Paul are absolute opposites in every way – from their physical appearance, to their beliefs about love, to the way which they conduct themselves in social situations. Most of the film’s humour comes from their differences being accentuated and played off against each other. This is often to great effect, but at times it completely misses the mark. It’s safe to assume that the humour doesn’t always translate very well.
In spending time with the seemingly hapless Toto, Paul gets to learn the impact of what he does for a job and slowly learns what it really means to love. Toto may not have it all together, but at least he knows how to let someone in. Toto causes Paul to re-examine both his attitude towards love and the reasons why he is unable to love himself. It’s a journey of self-discovery for Paul with the least likely teacher possible.
Technically the film is a mixed bag. The pair travel criss-cross Germany in Paul’s attempt to break-up a string of relationships, and in doing so we are treated to a tour of some of Germany’s most beautiful scenic vistas. Unfortunately the sometimes haphazard editing and oddly placed aerial shots of cities awkwardly break-up which is an often very enjoyable film. Musical cues are also overused and for the most part unneeded. On the positive side there are several impressive action scenes, with one scene in particular providing a heart-stopping moment for the audience.
Break-up Man provides plenty of laughs and is most definitely a “Kraut pleaser”.
Break-up Man/Schlussmacher is playing as part of the 2013 Audi Festival of German Films. For information about times/dates the film is screening, please visit the festival website.
By Sam McCosh
Director: Matthias Schweighöfer
Writer(s): Doron Wisatzky (screenplay)
Starring: Matthias Schweighöfer, Milan Peschel, Nadja Uhl
Runtime: 110 minutes