I Am The Keeper: Portrait of an exquisitely Swiss antihero
by Muriel Del Don
- Sabine Boss’ latest piece of work triumphed in the last edition of the Swiss awards, showing that Switzerland is also capable of churning out brilliant dark comedies
The Swiss sense of humour is, to many, a question mark – as if the country hidden behind all the mountains had some how escaped comedy. Sabine Boss goes beyond these clichés, showing us that Swiss people are also able to tell stories with light overtones, and tragi-comic undertones, hiding an un-glamorous good dose of reality. I Am The Keeper [+see also:
interview: Sabine Boss
film profile] (Der Goalie bin ig), is based on the novel by the same name by Swiss writer Pedro Lenz. It is a film rich in nuances, which is able to alternate serious and comic situations without falling into the trap of excessive pathos. It also manages to maintain a degree of sobriety in tones, from the themed perspective as well as from an aesthetic one.
I Am The Keeper is the story of Ernst, who everyone calls Goalie. After spending one year in prison, he returns to the small town of Schummertal (an invented name that is reminiscent of German Switzerland). Goalie wants to start a new life, far away from drugs and petty crime. He starts looking for a job and falls in love with a waitress “stübe” from the countryside. Regula (a surprising Sonja Riesen) is a woman with her head on her shoulders who comes to represent stability and tranquillity to him. Old hangouts are difficult to drop however, and just before happiness takes over, his old life catches up with him.
The character of Goalie, played with strength and emotion by a talented Mark Signer (award for best actor in Switzerland) perfectly represents someone living on the margins from the 1980s – with some idealistic overtones. The Swiss actor, thanks to an unmistakable voice (which has clearly lived a lot) and a coarse face, which hints back to Goalie’s tough past, manages to perfectly evoke the decadent and sensual atmosphere of a decade defined by anti-chic.
Sabine Boss’ latest film has a beauty to it, which might be defined as not of this time, a fascination to it, which holds an ambiguous taste: a reflection of a time where extremely ambitious characters on the hunt with economic success, lived next to people who did not want (or were not able to get) a hyper conforming and suffocating society. Goalie represents this last category perfectly. An antihero torn between a desire for stability and a strong sense of independence. Sabine Boss sets a scene full of prejudice and solitude typical of a closed minded environment, where someone’s wellness transforms in to a kind of prison. The atmosphere in I Am The Keeper is as captivating as it is melancholic, dominated by a constant feeling of loss. The excellent soundtrack by Peter von Sieberthal and Richard Köchli (who also won a Quartz) gives the film an extra element, as if it wanted to express what Goalie does not want or is not able to externalise.
The film has its own rhythm, a claustrophobic atmosphere, which is at the same time reassuring and typical of many places where conventions and conformism prevail over individual freedom. Sabine Boss gives space to the need to express one’s own individuality in a context, which does everything to suffocate it – and does it with irony (mixed with resignation and rebellion), which is perhaps the essence of a good Swiss comedy.
(Translated from Spanish)