Director: Peter Luisi
Cast: Beat Schlatter, Doro Müggler, Bendrit Bajra, Una Rusca, Luna Wedler
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Directed by Peter Luisi, this very funny Swiss sports comedy stars Beat Schlatter (who co-wrote the script with Luisi) as widowed 50-something high school teacher Balz Näf, who lives with his teenage daughter, Elisa (Luna Wedler). When he irresponsibly gambles away the money for a new school sports field, Balz finds himself in desperate need of a get-rich-quick scheme.
Working with his hairdresser-slash-bookie Kushtrim (Bendrit Bajra), Balz assembles a team of willing participants and organises a professional streaker ring, with Kushtrim’s clients betting on how long a streaker will stay on the pitch. However, things get complicated when Balz falls for Sandra Strebel (Doro Müggler), the dogged policewoman who’s determined to bust the streaker ring.
With his decidedly non-movie star looks and mildly shambolic persona, Schlatter has an appealing everyman quality that works well on screen. Throughout the film, he’s variously required to be pitiful, confident, quick-thinking and desperate and he wrings decent laughs from every one of those situations. He also has unexpectedly charming chemistry with Müggler and the stages of their relationship are nicely handled.
In addition, there’s strong comic support from Bendit Bajra as Kushtrim, while Philippe Graber is hilarious in an all-too-brief appearance as the original streaker who gives Balz the idea in the first place, delivering a passionate defence of streaking as a sport in its own right.
The deceptively clever script maintains a consistently high gag rate, with an engaging mix of visual and verbal humour (admittedly, at least one gag gets lost in translation – a word-play connection between Strebel and “streber”, or nerd, translated here as “striver”). Similarly, there’s an impressive economy in the script, especially in its treatment of the supporting characters – for example, two of the streakers have an entire romance / subplot that plays out largely without dialogue.
Luisi’s direction is extremely accomplished, striking exactly the right tone throughout – there’s a consistent sweetness to the film that is utterly charming, even when the characters are in desperate circumstances. Similarly, Luisi has terrific comic timing and a finely honed sense of how to stage a visual gag – there’s a great moment involving a large man and a small man that gives the film one of its biggest laughs.
The film also benefits from some snappy editing, not just in the streaker montage sequence (the way the film gives each streaker a slightly different style is just one of several smart decisions), but also in the story-telling itself – there are a handful of narrative jumps that a less confident film might have felt the need to over-explain, but Luisi trusts the audience to fill in the gaps for themselves and it pays off.
Packed with hilarious gags and great comic performances, this is an unsung gem of a sports comedy that is well worth seeking out.
Streaker is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription.
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