Friday, 11 November 2011

Opinion: B

This pop culture saturated romantic comedy was as vibrant and electrifying as its city backdrop, Berlin. Single by Contract, which would typically been any average teenage fare, stood out and emerged as an audience favourite with a lovely performance by Anna Fischer and a rock ballad soundtrack earworm. Her personality portrayal easily convinced the audience why the rock star was deeply attracted to her and why we became obsessed with her screen presence.

Lila returns to Berlin after spending a year in the U.S., only to find that everything's changed: her school has been taken over by Paris-Hilton-Queens, her mother has just fallen in love again, and her 11-year-old sister Luzy is totally hysterical about some band Lila's never even heard of. But then, out of the blue, she meets this guy named Chriz – and falls head over heels in love with him. What Lila doesn't know is that Chriz is actually the celebrated star of Berlin Mitte, the band everyone is going crazy about. Lila doesn't have a clue what's happening as she stumbles into the biggest romantic mess you can imagine…

Romantic comedies had been served countless times in various weary fashion, some felt like they tried too hard to impress when they clearly weren't capable of delivering.

But not this one. Single by Contract somehow got its formula right and seemed effortless too.

Its premise was as cliche as any other in the genre game - a teenage girl who came back from abroad and strange to her constantly evolving city falls in love with a super rock star, whose identity was oblivious to her until later.

In fact, it was possible that this could well be developed into some teenage pop idol drama.

Fantasy concept checked, what else would further enhance the film to draw in the teenage girls? Well, I'd have thought that a to-die-for hunk as the rock star would be a given. Interestingly, the casting concluded on one that wasn't an eye-candy. Kostja Ullmann never ceased to be a peculiar casting choice in my opinion. He exuded some boyish charms, but that's about it as far as his superstar aura went.

Alright, maybe he's the type that the Generation-Y teenage girls would idolise. I wouldn't have known.

The true magnet of the film, besides the rock ballad earworm tracks that the film treated us with, was Anna Fischer's portrayal of Lila - a perky and spirited young lady. She reminded me of an optimistic and bubbly version of Amelie Poulain, in some unexplainable manner. Her girl-next-door demeanour though, was apt and made it very plausible. Her role would have been easily filled by some teenage pop princess in lesser productions with higher budget.

Lila's character was so well-written, almost every single line of her dialogue pushed our cheeks upwards to induce heartwarming smiles upon our faces. It was almost impossible to not like her every second of screen presence, I found myself yearning for more of her scenes (when there's plenty already!).

Likewise, this made it naturally convincing for us to believe how Chriz would have fallen head over heels for a lady like her.

Single by Contract couldn't have been set in a better city than the electrifying Berlin. Berlin is one of the most vibrant cities in the world (least in my opinion) and it's a pity that the film didn't include more mood-instilling footage of the city other than Potsdamer Platz and fleeting glimpses of the Berlin-M├╝ggelberge TV tower.

I personally loved the opening motion graphic sequence that worked like a music video of the band. Have a look at the video below for an idea (which also featured the opening track):

The choice of image sequence by the editor was also relatively better than most genre films. Most of them didn't think too highly of good editing for romantic comedies. Not saying that the editing was technically good, but there was commendable effort in arranging the footage sequence that helped the film to flow better in terms of visual narration. Camerework and images were clean and reflective of the heavy pop influence that the film had.

Without saying, the film's plagued by the usual predictable elements, such as the melodramatic chapter right before the all-too-easy happy ending. Melodramas only served a single purpose - create tension/problem. The problem came with a problem where melodramas were typically, well, over dramatic.

But that's the kind of fantasy that teenage girls would pay to escape to, and who would blame them for desiring to experience 100 minutes of an urbanised fairytale romance for a simple ticket price?

As a male audience (who isn't a teenager), I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed this fare with Fischer's influential presence and performance. Without her, this would very likely become a less charismatic film that would easily have been buried amidst several others.


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