Off Beat

DIRECTOR: Jan Gassmann

Expected guest: director Jan Gassmann

What do you call it when a kid calls out his older brother, on stage, in front of a crowded club, in an expletive-filled rap? In Off Beat, that’s called brotherly love.

Lukas is a guy with many faces: he’s a lover, a musician, manager of a hemp plantation, a drug addict and a big brother. His business partner, Mischa, is also secretly his lover, if not also both the angel and devil on his shoulders. Lukas is looking for a way to salvage his dream of becoming a rap star. Enter Sämi, Lukas’s brother and a more talented and disciplined performer. When Mischa encourages them to work together, Lukas starts to unravel even more in an exquisitely painful downward spiral.

In this Berlinale hit, director Jan Gassmann makes fine work of his narrative debut. By casting authentic members of the Swiss rap and music scene, Gassmann succeeds in creating raw intimacy among his cast. Fans will recognize Chocolococolo, also known as Hans-Jakob Mühlethaler, as the magnetic Lukas. Working with a handheld camera and available light, Gassmann’s pedigree in documentary filmmaking serves the story well, bringing us closer to a family teetering on the verge of implosion.

— TRISTA S. KENDALL

In Swiss German with English subtitles.

AT&T Audience Award Text Voting Code: F137

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