Although teenage films were all the rage in the ’80s, it’s hard to find a genuine dissertation of angst amongst the films produced in the 21st century. Lomo changes all that, presenting a probing depiction of alienation, as Karl (Jonas Dassler) demonstrates rebellion through an online blog that gives the film its name. His parents don’t understand it – why should they? – and he finds himself lost in a world of suburban gateways and school exams. He’s withdrawn (he could be read as a possible Asperger’s candidate), but seems largely likeable, although the film shows a predilection for vengeance, not least when he leaks a sex tape of a fellow student on his blog.
Filmed in 2017, the film seems more prescient than ever, considering how detailed the loneliness feels, and just how frustrating it must be for this central character trapped in an eternal bubble of ennui. It all comes together in one telling scene, as Karl sits between his parents at a dinner table, their eyes focused on the bottle of wine that stands as a metaphor for their depleting relationship. His mother is anxious for her partner to succeed and get the contract she desperately expects from him, his father seems more concerned with the beverage he hopes to drink, while their son soaks in the boredom with an ennui entirely of his own.
Like many German teenagers, Karl finds himself stuck behind a computer screen, aching for a friendship from behind the pixels that form his website. His work is popular, but liked by who, and for what purpose are they following him for? Undeterred, Karl carries on with his blog, sinking like the wine splashed from an ever changing supply of wine. It’s a committed performance that takes a level of discipline, but Dassler matches the ambition and then some. Behind those puppy dog eyes lies a ghost, wading in and out of every conversation, his mantra suppressed, and his purpose unaccounted for.
The film is neither a warning nor a celebration of social media, but rather cements somewhere between the two flags. In many ways, the ambiguity is fitting, as the central tone is one of general apathy. Like his parents before him, Karl is drowning in a convoy of unfulfilled, faintly middle class turmoil, and just like the people who nurtured him, his ambivalence is what has led him to this point of personal hell.
Watch LOMO The Language of Many Others online and for free during the month of December only with Artekino.