Love blooms amidst the frenzied hedonist cityscape of post-WWI Berlin – but can anything, let alone a relationship, survive a society bent on self-destruction and the looming fascist threat?
Screened as part of NZIFF 2021
Diving headlong into the tangled milieu of post-WWI Berlin, veteran writer-director Dominik Graf crafts an artful tragi-romance set within an astute portrait of a society foundering. Adapted from Erich Kästner’s Weimar-era novel, the film follows Jakob Fabian (a magnetic Tom Schilling) as he drifts through a sea of underground sex clubs, unemployment lines, seedy bars and eateries. Always slightly at odds with his surroundings, the disillusioned young writer finds focus in the form of aspiring actress Cornelia Battenberg (an equally bewitching performance from Saskia Rosendahl). In the light of their fast-kindled love, the heightened hedonism of friends and fellow revellers betrays an underlying air of manic desperation and fear as the sharper political edges of the film slowly encroach.
Fabian – Going to the Dogs poetically observes humanity under pressure, with strong echoes of recent political moments, while never losing sight of its captivating central romance. — Jacob Powell
“The film’s freewheeling dynamism and stylistic elasticity allow Fabian to shake off the stuffier tropes of historical drama. Even so, the film doesn’t stint in terms of production value, with imposing use of locations such as Berlin’s austere university staircases and the opulently airy modernist villa of Labude’s family... not giving it the sometimes-anachronistic heightened gloss favoured by Babylon Berlin, but catching the texture of the world of poverty and despair behind the sheen of libertine glamour.” — Jonathan Romney, Screendaily