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Love Steaks review: A tragicomic love story spotlighting the plight of young, service industry professionals

Streaming on MUBI, German writer-director Jakob Lass’ film Love Steaks throws light on what young professionals go through - emotionally and at work

  • Reema Gowalla

Last Updated: 09.15 AM, May 07, 2022

Love Steaks review: A tragicomic love story spotlighting the plight of young, service industry professionals
A still from the film

STORY: Two curiously strange, young adults - Clemens and Lara - meet at their common workplace (a luxury hotel) and instantly take a liking to each other. Over time, their companionship becomes their support system, as one struggles with alcoholism and the other lacks confidence to speak up.

REVIEW: The stuffy elevator at a luxury hotel in coastal Germany got Clemens Pollozek (Franz Rogowski) and Lara Schmelzing (Lana Cooper) together for the first time. By profession, one is a masseur and the other a kitchen apprentice. They both work at the same hotel and come with their own little idiosyncrasies. While Clemens is timid and hardly speaks, Lara is loud, sometimes self-harming and even has a drinking problem. Obviously, opposites attract, but there is barely any sign of harmony thereafter. German filmmaker Jakob Lass’ award-winning comedy drama film Love Steaks explores the eccentricities and details of these two young people, who look for warmth in each other amid all the emptiness and odds.

More than anything else, the storyline delves deeper and deeper into the psyche of Clemens and Lara - why they behave in a certain way; what family background they have; and how their present circumstances (personal and organisational) are affecting them. The narrative technique relies on a realistic approach to portray the lives of two people entrapped in the monotony of the hospitality industry, with improvisation and provoked spontaneity being the recurrent motifs. The only breather is their frequent escapades to the barren beach, stretching along the fringes of the high-end hotel. From pretending to row a broken boat on the shores, burying her hip flask as a promise to stop drinking to trying out black magic tricks, Clemens and Lara have unique ways to find solace in emptiness.

The intricacies of their respective fields of work are depicted delicately in the film. The scenes in which Clemens was inappropriately touched by a client at the spa but he couldn’t do much to raise a concern fearing it will adversely affect his career makes this fiction very life-like. Him standing up for Lara when she was given a warning by her seniors after they found liquor bottles in her locker at work also seems to be inspired by a real-life incident. Lara’s sudden bouts of rage and withdrawal, with Clemens constantly trying to calm her down, sometimes, through massage sessions exude deep compassion, love and a strong sense of bond that they feel for each other.

You’ll also appreciate the work of staff members in the hotel who share frames with these two. Lara’s friendly banter with her co-workers in the kitchen, her being caught by the police officers while speeding on the highway with fresh pineapples wobbling on the rear deck and Clemens slipping on the wet floor near the pool every now and then bring in the comic relief in the plot. Another endearing scene is when Lara sneaks into Clemens’ laundry room one day to cheer him up with a plate of meat and some booze, only to realise that he’s a vegetarian teetotaller. Love Steaks is an unusual love story peppered with raw energy and an emotional flair.

VERDICT: If you are among those who love very less fiction on screen, go for this 90-minute film. It’s a good one-time watch. The movie is an honest portrayal of how young folks from not-so-affluent families struggle to survive in the service industry.

*Reema Gowalla is an arts and culture journalist, who mostly writes about theatre and independent cinema, and sometimes also delves into culinary heritage.