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Agnes and His Brothers (Unrated)

Release Date: June 9th, 2006 (Quad Cinema) by First Run Features.
The Cast: Martin Weiss, Moritz Bleibtreu, Herbert Knaup, Katja Riemann, Tom Schilling, Susan Anbeh, Vadim Glowna, Margit Carstensen, Lee Daniels, Marie Zielcke, Oliver Korittke, Martin Semmelrogge.
Directed by Oskar Roehler.
In German with subtitles.

BASIC PREMISE: Agnes (Knaup), a transsexual, and his two brothers, Hans-Jörg (Bleibtreu) and Werner (Weiss), struggle with their own issues.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Essentially three movies in one, Agnes and Her Brothers doesn’t live up to its comic or dramatic potential. Agnes, the transexual brother, argues with his lover, gets kicked out of his apartment, and eventually meets an old lover who is now famous. In another plotline, his brother Hans-Jörg, a librarian, suffers from sexual addiction and voyeurism which has a negative effect on his performance at work. Soon enough, he ends up in the porn industry. Finally, there’s Werner, a middle-aged politician who suffers from a spastic bowel which adds to the dysfunctional relationship with his wife (Reimann) and his rebellious teenage son (Schilling). To complicate matters, the three brothers’ father might have abused them when they were children. Some scenes feel amusing, such as when Hans-Jörg attends a group meeting for sex addicts where someone brings their sexual partner—a dog!—with them. Many other scenes seem contrived, like when Hans-Jörg falls in love with a porn actress and when Agnes meets her old lover-turned-celebrity during a red-carpet event. The dialogue between the two feels too stilted. Writer/director Oskar Roehler awkwardly jumps back and forth from each brother’s story without enough focus, so it’s difficult to care about any of the characters. Also, Roehler resorts to low-brow physical humor by including excrement in a particularly disgusting scene. At the end of the third act, brief plot twists regarding Agnes and Hans-Jörg don’t amount to much in terms of drama. Moreover, the twist regarding Hans-Jörg seems out-of-character. On a positive note, the soundtrack occasionally includes some well-chosen, familiar tunes which add some liveliness.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: Unfortunately, none

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: An often contrived, unfocused, and awkward plot.


IN A NUTSHELL: Mildly entertaining and occasionally amusing, but often awkward, contrived and unfocused.


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