Posters for the latest Swiss movie, Schweizer Helden, have been up for weeks. It is the story of Sabine, a housewife who has recently recently separated from her husband.
Sabine suddenly finds herself alone during the Christmas season. In order to gain recognition from her family and friends, she decides to stage the story of William Tell with a group of asylum seekers.
It is an endeavour for which she is hardly prepared, in many respects.
When news of the performance hits the media, Sabine goes to her limits – and beyond – to ensure the success of the play. Only then does she realize that what really counts is quite another matter...
The Swiss actress Esther Gemsch is perfectly cast as Sabine. Actually, it is she who carries the movie from start to finish.
Klaus Wildbolz plays a German theatre legend convincingly.
The rest of the cast consists of more (Kamil Krejci) and less familiar faces.
Hollywood would have told this story with lots of sound and vision effects. This being a Swiss low budget production, Schweizer Helden works on a lower, more intimate scale: Visually and in terms of soundtrack, this comedy is really not that special.
Schweizer Helden got honored with the Prix du public (audience award) at this year's Locarno Film Festival. And that surely means somthing.
The Swiss director Peter Luisi (Der Sandmann) made a highly entertaining, well acted comedy with quite a few melodramatic elements.
But luckily for the movie, the rather heavy topic of asylum seekers in Switzerland is not central. The screenplay manages to focus more on Sabine's struggles as a middle-aged housewife in emotional distress. Well done - especially for a film which is based on a true story!
Playing in Swiss theaters now
(Photography credit Frenetic Films)