The pursuit of happiness continues in the final instalment of Austrian filmmaker Ulrich Seidl’s trilogy of modern manners. Here, an overweight teenager (daughter of the first episode’s middle-aged sex tourist in Kenya) hopes to shed kilos at a summer diet camp. Given Seidel's cruel penchant for incongruous juxtaposition in his theatrically framed compositions, one might fear the director at his misanthropic worst. However, while he certainly gets mileage from the spectacle of all these chubby bodies, much of the film proves an uncharacteristic exercise in compassion. Indeed, the more time we spend with vulnerable Melanie (Melanie Lenz) and her fellow inmates, the more we see them as ordinary, lively teenagers made to suffer for dietary and body-image problems not of their making. Most of their problems can be traced to the emotional instability of divorced parents. Melanie’s besotted feelings for the centre’s somewhat creepy middle-aged doctor generates tension. But on this occasion Seidl gestures towards understanding rather than confrontation – turning in a slighter, softer-grained film than its predecessors, but no worse for it.
Cast and crew