DMovies - Your platform for thought-provoking cinema
Director - Martin Hawie - 2016

"Filthy genius movie"
The bull or the chicken? Impressive German gangster-'bromance' movie explores the underground of ethnic diversity and immigration in Germany

Piotr (Paul Wollin) and Victor (Miguel Dagger) are immigrants and prostitutes living in Cologne. The former, nicknamed Toro (Spanish for ‘bull’) is originally from Poland and services female clients; he is strong, disciplined and withdrawn. The latter is from Spain and services male clients; he is addicted to drugs, irresponsible and careless. Despite their differences, the two nurture a profound friendship, and Toro cares enormously about his light-headed and lost friend.

The background of the story is a vivid and shocking portrait of the sex-scene of Cologne, where derelict quarters, drug-fuelled lives and abject poverty exist side-to-side. The film explores a number of intertwining and controversial themes such as immigration inside the EU, integration, homosexuality, Catholic guilt, prostitution, drugs, violence with very convincing results.

There are no easy answers and flat characters in Toro. Attitudes quickly veer from profound altruism to dysfunctional behaviour and violence, and personalities are difficult to pierce together. Characters seek solutions to their problems in alcohols, drugs, sex, faith or they simply let off steam by hitting a punching bag. The return home (to Poland) is also a central theme. Finally, the Freudian link between narcissism, homosexuality and unrequited love is also exposed.

The director also dodges clichéd characters. For example, female sex clients are powerful and willing, while the strong ‘bull’ is not the Spanish character, but his Polish friend instead. In fact, he behaves more like a chicken. Nothing is as clearcut and obvious as it seems in Toro.

Entirely shot in black-white, Toro has a real gangster feel. In many ways, it is reminiscing of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s early films such as Love is Colder than Death (1968) and Gods of the Plague (1970) with all of its twisted violence and elegantly awkward sex. Differently from Fassbinder, however, Toro does not have Brechtian elements, instead embracing a more realistic acting style.

This riveting movie is the graduation work of Peruvian-born director Martin Hawie at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne. This is a very mature and complex film for a nascent director. It never feels amateurish, vulgar or superficial, instead delivering a real blow to the audience in the end of the film, like a bull hitting a torero. Hawie likely has a very promising career ahead.

Toro was screened this week as part of the German Cinema Perspective Section of the 66th Berlin Film Festival. DMovies is now live at the event, which ends on February 21st.



"Filthy genius movie"

By Victor Fraga - 19-02-2016

By Victor Fraga - 19-02-2016

Victor Fraga is a Brazilian born and London-based writer with more than 15 years of involvement in the cinema industry and beyond. He is an LGBT writer, and describes himself as a dirty Latin immigran...

DMovies Poll

Are the Oscars dirty enough for DMovies?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Most Read

Forget Friday the 13th, Paranormal Activity and the [Read More...]
Just a few years back, finding a film [Read More...]
A lot of British people would rather forget [Read More...]
A small family of four lives in a [Read More...]
Another year has gone by, and DMovies is [Read More...]
Pigs might fly. And so Brexit might happen. [Read More...]

Read More

The Woodcutter Story

Mikko Myllylahti
2022

Redmond Bacon - 21-05-2022

This typically Finnish tale ticks all the boxes of the national spirit, but failed to lift mine — live from the Cannes Film Festival! [Read More...]

Resistances: Words and Art for Fighting Political Defamation

Cristina Juliana Abril.
2022

Liván García-Duquesne - 16-05-2022

Four Brazilian artists living in political exile aim to transform trauma into art and beauty, in this reflective piece of filmmaking - at the Rich Mix on Saturday, May 28th [Read More...]

The Drover’s Wife

Leah Purcelll
2022

John McDonald - 12-05-2022

Meandering western led by a stellar performance covers some important themes, but it struggles to grip hold of its audience - in cinemas on Friday, May 13th [Read More...]

Facebook Comment

Website Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *