Monday, July 22nd, 2019

Label Me : one man’s struggle for his identity


This debut feature film from German writer/director Kai Kreuser is a compelling study of a power struggle between two solitary men who need each other for very different reasons.  It starts on train platform where using hookup apps on their phones Lars (Nikolaus Benda) a wealthy German picks up Waseem  (Renato Schuch) a Syrian refugee.

Once back at Lars chic loft Waseem lays down the rules as this is strictly business.  There is too be no kissing, no affectionate touching, and he will do the penetrating. It’s a transaction that Lars is happy to pay  for and when the two men hook up again later, he uses more money to pay for the right to ask the rather solemn ‘straight’ Syrian a few personal questions. 

They lead totally different lives, and although Kreuser is purposely economic with all the details, the contrast between the crowded refugee shelter that is currently home for Haseem and Lars’s apartment is jarring and something that neither men discuss.  Waseem’s internal struggles with coming to terms with the reality he is providing  sexual services for Lars now on a regular basis is played against the toxic masculinity of the other men in the shelter.

There is a shift in power as Lars very gradually tries to  assert his needs on to a very reluctant Waseem who starts  being confused about his own feelings.  When in the middle of making out one day and Lars has to rush off to a meeting he forgot he leaves Waseem alone in the apartment,  We seem him packing a bag full of Lar’s computers and things ……strangely enough adding his jock strap too …. but in the end he doesn’t take them and sits waiting for Lars to return.  He jokes  “You’re lucky. It takes me more effort to sell it than fucking you.” but It’s actually the very first sign that the iceman is thawing.

There is never going to be a 360 degree turn and have their story finish with a happy ending,  but after the two men fall out badly, they both are shocked at their own reactions that their ‘relationship’ may have ended. So Kreuser leaves them (and us) with a glimmer of hope.


This brief two-handed tale is completely compelling from the very first scene to the final credits.  The finely nuanced performances from the talented pair of actors is crowned with their exceptional electrifying chemistry that positively sizzles on the screen.  Its simple sparse plot has a much deeper dimension than it initially seemed, and one that will stick in your memory a long time after.

Posted by queerguru  at  21:09


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