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MUNICH 2018

Review: Everything Always All the Time

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- Philipp Eichholtz’s light-hearted comic fantasy, world-premiered at Munich, is an entertaining watch, despite some clumsy attempts at psychological depth

Review: Everything Always All the Time
Actresses Martina Schöne-Radunski (left) and Stella Hilb in Everything Always All the Time

What would happen if we were given an easy and affordable opportunity to change our sexual organs for a brief period of time, out of boredom or curiosity, or just on a whim? Bearing in mind people’s willingness to go under the knife for every possible enhancement, the options that director Philipp Eichholtz presents in his fourth feature, Everything Always All the Time, would be frightening if he were serious. He is not entirely serious, but he does address some weighty themes in this bittersweet dramedy, which had its world premiere in the New German Cinema section of the Munich Film Festival, such as the power of good marketing, the flexibility of romantic boundaries and the messy consequences that follow when personal desires take precedence over everything else.

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Kim (Martina Schöne-Radunski) has just passed the test in order to be an airline pilot in Switzerland, but instead of hurrying back to Germany to celebrate with her boyfriend, Andreas (Christian Ehrich), she pays a visit to Dr Herbert Venningen (Hans-Heinrich Heidt), whose clinic specialises in gender transition surgery. The film opens with a scene in his practice, with Kim slouched comfortably on a couch, saying matter-of-factly that she would like to have a penis. Venningen tries to explain the complete gender change procedure, but she interrupts him, insisting that a penis is all she needs. Moments later, we see her browsing through the catalogue of prototypes – "instant and fully functional within 24 hours" – like a child studying the latest Lego brochure before choosing their favourite model.

The original German title of Eichholtz's movie translates as “Kim's Got the Penis”, which gets spectacularly lost in its international title. Kim's got the penis indeed – but what for? Any fantastical notions she might have had about it before the surgery vanish before the big reveal to the viewer, and the joke is on everyone. Because Kim is overwhelmed by her new "package", and her sexual thirst is unquenchable. But her boyfriend is less than pleased about the radical change, which he discovers without warning, and her best friend Anna (Stella Hilb) thinks that they are both perverts. Even so, Kim considers keeping her new toy after the four-month trial, the deadline for reversing the procedure.

Logic is irrelevant in most "what if" stories, and that is also the case here. Kim's character is built on many ideas, none of which are fully developed, making it difficult to tell whether she is on a journey to self-discovery or just a spoiled, selfish brat screaming for a special new toy that she is not willing to share with the other kids.

The film's clumsy attempts at psychological depth are redeemed by a few unforgettably funny moments, including Kim's first morning glory and strange new bathroom habits. Markus Morkötter's smooth editing allows some of the less coherent scenes to click together satisfyingly, helping the compact 84-minute running time to pass by relatively smoothly. Overall, this light-hearted comic fantasy is an entertaining watch with smart music choices, including the mischievous original score by Tina Pepper.

Everything Always All the Time was produced by Germany’s Von Oma Gefördert, and UCM.ONE has the international rights.

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