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A threesome wrought with political ideals form a tenuous foundation for The Red Cockatoo. A probable and precarious romance assimilate, like most of the denizens of its 1961 Dresden setting, with the growing need of youths to channel their rebelliousness into the politicised East German milieu. A playful, quasi-melodrama (by way of a tepid love triangle) that is pasteurised of its more mundane issues of tedious moralisation, the film unsuccessfully attempts to juggle its pervasive politicking with the personal growth of the young and idealistic Siggi (Max Riemelt).
Riemelt, best known from yet another politically charged German period, Napola, is astonishingly well versed in naivety especially seen in Siggis earnest bewilderment of a life suddenly faced with uncertainty and disassociation. Wide-eyed and with just a certain measure of tremulous need for purpose, Siggi gets to work as a painter for sets in a theatre with the hope of going to art school. A casual stroll in a park forces him into a premature encounter with the GDRs police force that leads to the first meeting of the films triumvirate in proscribed scribe, Luise (Jessica Schwarz) who delivers him to the titular locale, a local dance club called The Red Cockatoo. Siggi meets Luises flippant, boorish husband, Wolle (Ronald Zehrfeld), the final complication in the ternary.
As a primary location, the club hopefully symbolises the youthful, underground rebellion that gathers in its Bohemia. Notoriously, and defiantly rebukes the political upheavals and impending construction of the Berlin Wall by playing West Germanys music, a practice sternly disapproved of by the GDR. Despite the occasional sense that Siggis escalating involvement into the 60s zeitgeist of political demonstration is nothing more than an act of emotional compensation when his feelings for Luise starts to deepen, it does eventually gather itself with a cursory insight into the strength of character that the eras youthful protesters once possessed.
The essentially redeeming poignancy of the film, and perhaps its emotional slant is more psychological than political. The Red Cockatoo is fundamentally construed as a comedy, but an oddly ineffectual one since it never does quite figure out how to balance its characters emotional outputs of anger, disenchantment, lust and impetuses. A close and possibly apt comparison would be the producers own Good Bye, Lenin! that confidently tackled the similar tropes of Germany's East-West miasma with heart, humour and a deft understanding of human needs and drives. Something that was lost throughout this films proceedings.