ALOYS

PrintE-mail Written by Ian White

Aloys Adorn (Georg Friedrich) is a private investigator whose elderly father – also a PI – has recently died. Now Aloys lives alone in the cramped apartment he used to share with his dad and isolates himself even further from the world. He follows his suspects around with a camcorder, refuses to engage with his neighbours, and his only companion is a stolen cat with a chemical deficiency.

But after he falls asleep on the bus and wakes up to find his precious camcorder and surveillance tapes have all been stolen, Aloys’ life takes a surreal swerve. The thief (Tilde von Overbeck) telephones Aloys and talks as if she knows him quite well: is she the woman from the crematorium who insisted (in a wonderful fit of bad timing) that she and Aloys had gone to school together? Or is it somebody in a club who seems to be following his every move? The thief won’t give away any secrets, but instead she introduces Aloys to the ‘Japanese concept of phone-walking’ – using his imagination to step between the frequencies of their words and enter into another world, a woodland far removed from Aloys dismal beige surroundings where they can eventually meet each other face-to-face. Reluctantly, Aloys follows her instructions. What happens next will change him forever.

Aloys is the feature debut of Swiss-born writer-director Tobias Nölle, and it’s a good-looking but slightly perplexing oddity. With its eccentric central characters and the existential conceit of ‘phone-walking’ that slips them disjointedly in and out of time and space, Aloys has an extremely Charlie Kaufman-esque vibe. But the first half is infinitely better than the second. Once Aloys has identified his mystery caller and their tentative romance truly dives down a metaphysical rabbit hole, it all gets a bit tiresome. It’s a shame, because the script is nicely structured and Friedrich and von Overbeck are terrific to watch, but Nölle indulges too much in the weirdness and doesn’t mine down to the heart of his story and its characters like Kaufman does in, say, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (which must have been one of Aloys’ inspirations). In theory, Aloys could have told us something about loneliness, disconnection, romantic delusion and the confusion between imagination and reality. In practice, it’s a beautifully photographed curate’s egg with nothing emotionally or intellectually substantial at its centre.

ALOYS / CERT: 12 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: TOBIAS NÖLLE / STARRING: GEORG FRIEDRICH, TILDE VON OVERBECK, KAMIL KREJCI / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW

 


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