The outdoor swimming pool is a focal point and a place of social conflict. We know this from last summer and the comedy film “Beckenrand Sheriff” starring Milan Peschel in the title role, and unfortunately also from reality in Berlin – at least from the massive brawls with machete attacks in Columbiabad. Probably anyone could contribute to their experiences: heat, skin, youth, chips, a love of tidiness, and a bomb in the ass from the pool – the mix is explosive. The new comedy film “Freibad” by Doris Dörrie, which will be released before the end of summer, shows that it doesn’t necessarily have to be calmer if you at least filter out your testosterone. It is the only facility in Germany reserved for women only, if you believe the information.
But even without male involvement, there are conflicts of interest that arise from – yay: varied! – cultural or ideological rules regarding clothing, food, pets and bathing. After all, it’s not a problem that a transgender person who claims to be a woman sells grilled food – pork first, then lamb and finally tofu – and every morning he raises a brilliant inflatable advertising sausage between his legs, but never lets it burst. The pump of humor is moaning! And he bravely continues his work.
In the ladies’ bathroom, rich Arab women with full body covers and designer handbags meet Bavarian feminists for the first hour, a long time ago, and compete for a place under the toadstool: “They come from the desert, so they have no shade there either.” Another student is described as an Islamophile in a new bikini, as obese as jelly. Turkish women light a barbecue, smuggle their son with a veil into the bathroom and laugh at the ambitious niece who, out of pure self-definition, forces herself to bathe in a burkinis that covers her body and hugs her. It’s called a cliche fireworks show, right? At one point, perfect shit swims in bright blue shining chlorine water, causing guilt and misunderstanding – until conflicts break out in a mass brawl.
At this point, the Swiss PoC lifeguard is finally fed up and quits, which is a problem given the general lack of nerves and skilled workers. Only male replacements can be found in flight. Ninety percent of bathers are so enchanted that they quickly lose their pride and embarrass the bespectacled young man with their drastic attempts to flirt. The remaining ninety percent are indignant and feel betrayed (possible overlap).
“The bathroom is the prettiest when it is empty” – this is how the cashier and the owner sighs after she chases the audience away and slammed the bars, and you have to agree with her: Night falls over the surface of the water, in which the calm rubber duck, rubber swan, rubber flamingo and rubber peacock drifting softly next to each other, gently nudging here and there and seeming to glow from within. Cemetery of bathing animals. And the next morning it starts all over again: phallus inflation, shadow boxing, butt bomb.
It was quickly understood that the multicultural outdoor pool for women was a minefield in the hot summer. There is little room for the development of characters whose needs remain trivial – two friends Gabi and Ewa (Maria Happel and Andrea Sawatzki) have the most empathy, who after the menopause use their hands, feet, breasts, racist resentment and a few moments of shame towards others in the face of old age, loneliness and invisibility.
The script with good German accuracy, with German diligence, pushes away every cliche, shifts the perspectives and attitudes of the characters into what is quickly recognizable and further into the expected absurdity. In due course, a happy ending is prepared, with some duelists teaming up with their counterparts. One night on the starting block, the seller of the Bratwurst: in booth formulates a related utopia, which is that everyone should let everyone be themselves, because being a guest is nice, no matter what you look or what you think.
But being du is actually just being someone else – which brings us back to the Western liberal dictatorship of self-realization, and isn’t that rather paternalistic? So let’s leave it alone. If from this comedy, which is harmless, heavy and strives for equal completeness, we want to extract something like the principle of peaceful coexistence, then this is: understanding play is a must! And please don’t poop into the water.
outdoor poolGermany, 2022, director: Doris Dörrie, screenplay: Dörrie, Karin Kaçi, Madeleine Fricke, cinematography: Hanno Lentz, with: Andrea Sawatzki, Maria Happel, Nilam Farooq, Samuel Schneider and many others 102 minutes, color, FSK: 12