Therapy For A Vampire

***1/2

Reviewed by: Luke Shaw

Therapy For A Vampire
"Tobias Moretti and Jeanette Hain play the Count & Countess Közsnöm with arch reverence to vampire movies of old."

You wouldn’t expect to find any kind of feminist message in a supernatural comedy set in 1911 Vienna, but Therapy For A Vampire manages it without detriment to its main premises. Lucy is a plucky waitress who wears the trousers in her relationship with artist Viktor, in both senses of the phrase. Viktor is a bright artist in the employ of one Dr. Sigmund Freud, illustrating the lusty dreams of the doctor’s patients. He’s upsetting Lucy by desiring to change her from a headstrong woman into a demure and refined lady. A fairly typical romantic comedy, I hear you cry, and it is, until a pair of depressed vampires enters the mix.

Depressed vampires? Surely not? Immortal, never to grow a day in age, able to fly and morph into all manner of creatures of the night, impeccably dressed and living in gothic splendour, there shouldn’t be any room for moonlit navel gazing. In a way similar to Interview With A Vampire’s musings on the issues presented by the potential prison of immortality, David Rühm has conjured up a story where you’ll believe a vampire can struggle to get out of the coffin in the evening.

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It helps that Tobias Moretti and Jeanette Hain play the Count & Countess Közsnöm with arch reverence to vampire movies of old. Geza visits Freud because he is haunted by the death of a lover 500 years in the past (a fact Freud rationalises as flowery metaphor) and he cannot put up with the vain demands of his wife Elsa any longer. She isn’t much better off either, having not seen her own face for hundreds of years, she longs for someone to paint her, but all painters are cursed to never apply paint to canvas. Both of their solutions appear in Lucy and Viktor: Lucy is the spit of Geza’s old flame, and Viktor is a dab hand in capturing the female form.

What follows is a sequence of campy, hijinks fuelled trysts, with plenty of nods and winks to Freud’s work - sometimes a sausage is just a sausage - and a bucketload of vampire themed humour. The decision to adhere to the Bela Lugosi school of bloodsuckers works a treat, with the Közsnöms gliding and stalking around with theatrical aplomb, forever fated to count dropped objects. There’s plenty of belly laughs provided by all of the characters, and there’s a great sense of charm.

Much of the plot focuses on Lucy’s disdain at being forced to fit the expectations of various men, which is an applaudable approach, and Therapy gets a lot of mileage out of a concept that has been done plenty of times before without feeling wormeaten. There are a few negatives. The denouement is especially weak and a few jokes are repeated a handful of times too many, but it’s hard to wrinkle your nose at a kitsch vampire comedy that doesn’t rely on base humour to get its giggles.

Reviewed on: 17 Jun 2015
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A vampire seeks assistance from Dr Freud.

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Jennie Kermode ***1/2

Festivals:

EIFF 2015

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