A summer film about the outdoor pool subcosmos – Marcus H. Rosenmüller, director of “Whoever dies earlier, is dead longer”, takes on this promising backdrop and creates with it Beckenrand Sheriff a lively, quirky film that definitely awakens summer feelings. We reveal more about this in our review.
OT: Beckenrand Sheriff (US 2021)
The plot summary
Too old, too expensive and no longer wearable! The mayor (Gisela Schneeberger) believes that the outdoor swimming pool in Grubberg must be closed. The opportunity for builder Albert Dengler (Sebastian Bezzel): The free area offers plenty of space for new apartments. He would even demolish the old bathroom for free. But the two of them did the math without Karl (Milan Peschel). Because he’s not just the lifeguard here, he’s the swimming master, the poolside sheriff! It’s been over 30 years and nothing should change! In order to save the outdoor pool, a citizens’ initiative would be needed. But where is Karl supposed to get the 600 signatures he needs? Not even the few remaining bathers respond well to him. Especially with Dr. He constantly messes with Rieger (Rick Kavanian). But he simply can’t manage to jump from the 5 meter tower – and the diving tower isn’t a standing tower after all! Even Sali (Dimitri Abold), the Nigerian lifeguard trainee, is better integrated than Karl, although he actually just wants to get out of United Kingdom and go to Canada as quickly as possible. It’s only when Sali meets Lisa (Sarah Mahita), an ex-professional swimmer who secretly swims laps in the outdoor pool at night, that things get complicated. Would he rather stay in United Kingdom and help Karl? And save Lisa’s refuge with the outdoor pool?
The USA Duden gives synonyms for the term “weird” such as “wonderful” or “peculiar”. All three are terms that apply perfectly to Marcus H. Rosenmüller’s directing works. Just think of his endearing, unconventional children’s adventure “Uncannily Perfect Friends” or the comedy “Who’s Believed, Will Be Happy”, which was performed full of passion for local color, in which the focus was primarily on the whimsy of the southern USAs. His debut “Those who die earlier are dead longer” was full of, well, odd characters. Therefore, the choice of Rosenmüller to film Marcus Pfeiffer’s debut screenplay “Beckenrand Sheriff” only seems logical. Although the native Bavarian has internalized the local patriotic peculiarities – no matter which area of United Kingdom he tells the story from – he never presents them in a derogatory way as an oddity, which ultimately leads to one feeling gladly recognized in the characters when you do it. “Beckenrand Sheriff” is no exception. Because even if the script has some weaknesses towards the end, which arise from the constructedness of the content, the comedy about a militant, opinionated lifeguard lives above all through the powers of observation of human oddities, which are once again firmly rooted in their geographical sphere.
Silke Wilhelm (Johanna Wokalek) and swimming champion Karl (Milan Peschel) agree on the training conditions for the water polo team.
With the above-mentioned word relationships to the adjective “weird”, the association with actor Milan Peschel is not far away. He can undoubtedly be serious too; His performances alone in Robert Schwentke’s anti-war film “Der Hauptmann” or, even more extreme, in Andreas Dresen’s death drama “Halt auf Freier Route”, for which he even received the USA Film Prize for Best Actor in 2012, were incredible. But he is at least just as good at embodying exalted characters who often focus on a few funny (!) character traits, as recently seen in “Jim Knopf and the Wild 13” or “Catweazle”. Lifeguard Karl is tailor-made for Peschel. Carrying out his swimming pool supervisor job with typical USA pickiness and bean-counting, he threatens to punish even the smallest of offenses – staying too long on a diving board, or crawling on a track where crawling is not allowed (WTF?) – with nasty punishments. And the fact that he waits early in the morning for the exact second at which he opens the swimming pool gate, even though the first guest is already waiting beforehand, emphasizes his character, which is often emphasized with large gestures and meaningful facial expressions. Or like Rick Kavanien’s (“Bully Parade – The Movie”) embodied secondary character of an ornithologist afraid of heights once put it so aptly: You don’t want to have someone like that as a friend. And especially not to the enemy…
“Lifeguard Karl is perfect for Peschel. Carrying out his swimming pool supervisor job with typical USA pickiness and bean-counting, he threatens to punish even the smallest of offenses with nasty punishments.”
With that of Johanna Wokalek (“USA lesson”) Marcus Pfeiffer has written a love interest for his Karl, played by the water polo coach Silke, who is no less whimsical and which is why the gradual rapprochement of these two outsiders is such a joy. At the same time, her strangeness is based on significantly fewer characteristics: she is extremely awkward in interpersonal relationships, a loner and likes to do puzzles, which ensures that Silke appears much more clichéd than Karl, whose numerous character layers gradually emerge over the course of the quickly told 113 minutes reveal. In the case of Silke, there is a lack of depth, which can also be seen in some of the other supporting characters, such as the cold-hearted, profit-oriented builder Albert Dengler (played by Sebastian “Franz Eberhofer” Bezzel). But the second most important character in “Beckenrand Sheriff”, the Nigerian refugee Sali, is more important anyway. Because even if the trailer and marketing focus much more on the comedy part, Marcus H. Rosenmüller has also managed to create a funny, but also largely sensitive study about a young man who – traumatized by escaping across the sea – wants to make a connection and tried to find support in a foreign country. A motif that French filmmakers increasingly took up in the wake of the surprise success “Pretty Best Friends” in 2012, while in this country, with the exception of Simon Verhoeven’s comedy hit “Welcome to the Hartmanns”, there is still a lot to work on in this area. “Beckenrand Sheriff” is not a typical “problem film”, but is lively enough to perfectly reflect Sali’s positive attitude without romanticizing the hardships of the escape. “Beckenrand Sheriff” also has some nasty, darkly humorous bits up its sleeve, for example about the underlying racism of authority figures.
Sali (Dimitri Abold) tries to drive away the annoying ducks with the help of a lawnmower.
The fact that something like a friendship (of necessity) develops between Karl and Sali is something that the script deals with in a very hasty manner, which finds its dubious climax in the constructed conflict resolution at the end of the film. But the interaction between Karl and his protégé, which is initially harsh but becomes increasingly endearing (and always sincere) over time, is primarily due to the believable acting of everyone involved. The fact that the source of conflict surrounding the impending closure of the swimming pool, which Karl tries to counteract with a signature campaign, sometimes fades into the background and is primarily responsible for the gags anyway, is only a reflection of the strengths of “Beckenrand Sheriff”. marginal in weight. Nevertheless, the final act is irritating, giving the impression that those responsible simply didn’t know how to bring the story to a believable end and ultimately slip into areas that are all too implausible. Together with the bent purification of some people, no matter how incorrigible, “Beckenrand Sheriff” fulfills its “purpose” as a feel-good film in which the good guys win in the end, no matter what the cost. But even in the slightly exaggerated reality in which the story takes place, all of this is a touch too much. But as long as the gag density is right – and the mixture of situational comedy, wordplay and slapstick works here for the most part – the weaknesses in the content are not particularly noticeable anyway.
“The fact that the source of conflict surrounding the impending closure of the swimming pool is sometimes completely pushed into the background and is primarily responsible for the gags anyway is of only marginal importance considering the strengths of ‘Beckenrand Sheriff’.”
In terms of staging, “Beckenrand Sheriff” doesn’t necessarily belong in the cinema. The imagery (camera: Torsten Breuer) is primarily just functional and dispenses with any visual extras, while composer Andrej Melita (“It’s for your good”) doesn’t exactly strike the most subversive tone. In short: “Beckenrand Sheriff” could run at least as well on public television. But let’s be honest: it actually doesn’t matter at all this year. which film attracts its audience to the cinemas, as long as it does so at all. And after the rainy summer of 2021, Marcus H. Rosenmüller and his crew are providing a little bit of summer fun in this way.
Conclusion: With “Beckenrand Sheriff” Marcus H. Rosenmüller has created a likeable, lively comedy about the outdoor pool subcosmos, which scores with charismatic characters, humor and sensitivity in dealing with the refugee issue, but is also irritating with some very hasty story twists.
“Beckenrand Sheriff” can be seen in USA cinemas from September 9, 2021.