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Therapy For a Vampire

Year: 2014
Production Co: Novotny & Novotny Filmproduktion GmbH
Director: David Rühm
Writer: David Rühm
Cast: Tobias Moretti, Jeanette Hain, Cornelia Ivancan, Dominic Oley

If anyone tells you movies are getting worse as an institution because it's all about superheroes and sequels, there's an infallible defence as long as movies like Therapy for a Vampire are around. To lump all movies into the narrow Hollywood model of increasingly overblown CGI battles among the same bland hero archetypes in the same silly costumes is unfair to the breadth of styles and movements cinema today is comprised of.

Even though Therapy for a Vampire isn't a perfect film, it's cause for some celebration that an Austrian gothic comedy about a vampire consulting with Sigmund Freud not only exists, but is easy to find on streaming platforms.

Count Geza von Közsnöm (Tobias Moretti) and his wife Elsa (Jeanette Hain) are at a loose end in themselves and in their relationship. He's finding himself increasingly despondent about his lot in life – being centuries old and having lived countless adventures and tasted the blood of countless innocents, he doesn't feel like he's got anything to look forward to anymore. And Elsa, struck with mature-age vanity, can't stand the fact that she can't even enjoy her own beauty in a mirror.

They take their respective spiritual malaises out on each other. Geza has daydreams of driving a stake through her heart, telling his psychotherapist he hates her and can't stand to look at her. It makes her daily demands to tell her how nice she looks feel even emptier, which she in turn believes in less.

But both Geza and Elsa find something worth living for in young bohemian couple Lucy (Cornelia Ivancan) and Viktor (Dominic Oley), a talented painter tasked with recording Freud's dreams in visual form for what will become his formative work.

When Geza sees Lucy, he's smitten – she reminds him of the girl who got away centuries before that he's always pined for. At the same time, Elsa decides Viktor is her chance to see herself in all her glory by commissioning him to paint her portrait.

The jealous tension is hard enough between the four of them, but with Geza and Elsa's snarky manservant threatening to gum up the works even further as the bloodletting grows, things can only go one way.

It's funny without being overtly jokey, and the gothic 20th Century European setting and locations look great. In an age were a mockumentary about vampire flatmates from New Zealand (What We Do In the Shadows) can be so well made, a comedy about a centuries old vampire who's lost all interest in his life ('life has lost its bite' he says at one point) makes perfect sense.

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