TIFF Next Wave: Our Review of ‘Axolotl Overkill’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Movies, TIFF Next Wave 17 by - February 15, 2018
TIFF Next Wave: Our Review of ‘Axolotl Overkill’

An hour into Axolotl Overkill, Berliner teenager Mifti (Jasna Fritzi Bauer) meets one of his shady adult friends. He shows her the titular axolotl, a Mexican amphibian, translucent, perpetually larval, impervious to most physical harms. The film likens Mifti to the exotic animal.

No one really harms the small axolotl. However, we do see the protagonist Mifti in dicey situations, specifically with her affairs with adults of both sexes. The most important relationship she has is with an older woman, Alice (Arly Jover).

Helene Hegemann’ movie adaptation of her controversial first novel Axolotl Roadkill is a interesting failure of a balancing act. It deliberately confuses its audience as it tries to explain Mifti’s relationships. Hegemann’s storytelling diminishes Bauer’s acting.

Bauer, for the most part, is capable in the role. She uses her small frame to her advantage, reinforcing the unequal power dynamic between Mifti and the adults. There’s also an expressiveness to her that she incorporates with Hegemann’s fast paced script.

In portraying Mifti’s relationships with Alice and the other adults, the film puts them on thin ice. It puts these characters on a middle ground between exploiting her yet treating her as an equal. There is something wanting between the dialogue between Mifti and these adults.

In writing the characters, Hegemann reminds us that they’re not always speaking their first language. But other films have used that complication better, making the dialogue here seem like in punk jargon. The choices here hint at a bourgeois perspective on the life of a wayward hipster like Mifti.

I’m also less at peace with its stylistic choices. Its use of shaky cam and rapid cuts add up to a fractured, product. There’s the flashbacks when Mifti remembers Alice. Instead of a wallop, following Mifti’s life unfortunately seems like a cold puzzle.

This post was written by
While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
Comments are closed.