Jan 7, 2015

Review: High Maintenance (2006)

High Maintenance is a short that's won a bunch of different awards including the AFI Filmmaker Award at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival as well as being the winner in Delta's Fly-In Movies Film Contest at Sundance, both in 2007. Since then, director Phillip Van made a little bit of headway by directing TV series/mini-series Bright Falls in 2010 which was a prequel to the video game Alan Awake. That's a pretty cool little tidbit and reminds me that I got to work on clearing my Steam backlog. 


Genre: short, comedy, drama
Directed by: Phillip Van
Produced by: Ina Göring, Cordula Kablitz-Post, Edda Baumann von Broen, etc.
Written by: Simon Biggs
Music by: Daniel Dickmeis
Running time: 10 minutes
Production company: Avanti Media Fiction
Distributed by: N/A
Country: Germany
Language: English
Budget: N/A
Box office: N/A

IMDb entry

Starring: Nicolette Krebitz, Wanja Mues, Judith Rohde, Anna Schenk-Rollmann, Lisa Zlotnick



Jane (Nicolette Krebitz) is having a special anniversary dinner with her robotic husband Paul (Wanja Mues). He makes for a decent stand-in for a real human husband, but Jane isn't quite as satisfied as she'd like to be with his performance. She decides she could do better and swaps him for a better model.


High Maintenance is an interesting commentary on how society consumes. It's set in the near future, so it's not really worlds away from us today. We greedily consume different products these days and in Simon Biggs' version of the future, we also consume people. Today we're pretty quick to replace what we already have with something else that'll hopefully be better. Is it that big of a jump to think that we'll do the same thing with people? This is why everything we buy these days is so disposable. We'd all rather get something new instead of fixing what we already have.

The story ends up being pretty clever even if I did sort of expect it. Still, Simon Biggs puts together a nice story that benefits greatly from some solid production values. It's well filmed and everything from the mise-en-scene to the sound is extremely professional.

One thing I couldn't really understand however is why the characters all spoke English. HM is a German production and Nicolette Krebitz as well as Wanja Mues are German natives. Why make them speak English? Krebitz is probably the worst off here and seems to struggle a bit. She's perfectly understandable, but I'd have rather watched her speak German with subtitles. Why makes her limp through English dialogue? Presumably, that's to make it have the best chance in international film festivals. Doesn't mean I have to agree with it though.

High Maintenance is easy to look at, easy to listen to and it has a pretty compelling story. I like the gentle humour and I like the commentary as well. I do wish it had all been done in German, but that doesn't stop this short from being a worthwhile watch. 




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