“Brick fever”: Chronicle of a scam

banker Nicole Kleber ( Janina Uhse )

Brick Fever is a dramatic comedy written and directed by Cüneyt Kaya (UMMAH – Among Friends). It stars David Kross (Lost in the Snow, The Reader), Frederick Lau (The Captain, Victoria), Janina Uhse, Emily Goss, Uwe Preuss, Silvina Buchbauer, Heike Hanold-Lynch, Sophia Thomalla,  and Anne Schäfer. The film is a German production distributed by Netflix from April 17, 2020.

Synopsis

It tells the story of the rise and fall of two real estate scam artists. Viktor Stein ( David Kross ), Gerry Falkland ( Frederick Lau ) and banker Nicole Kleber ( Janina Uhse ) get incredibly rich in no time. But soon they are absorbed deeper and deeper into a whirlwind of lies, fraud and deceit – until at some point they completely lose sight of reality and have to decide what is really important to them.

The Berlin Lion

The movie Brick Fever is a fairly cynical comedy. The first sequence already makes this clear. An orgiastic party filmed in slow motion while listening to the famous aria A sneaky tear from the opera L’elisir d’amore by the Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti. Boasting excess will be the modus operandi of this film written and directed by the German filmmaker of Turkish origin, Cüneyt Kaya.

Brick fever is the eloquent title of a film that shows us in detail the chronicle of a scam, from the scammer’s point of view. A proposal that looks in the mirror of The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese, 2013) and could well have been titled The Lion of Berlin (those who have seen the movie will understand it). If the film of the genius of Queens was located on the New York Stock Exchange, here the protagonists are dedicated to the real estate market, to the sale of real estate. They swell up to make money that they then squander at parties with prostitutes, drugs and alcohol.

Attraction to amorality

Brick fever addresses the issue of real estate speculation that led us to the great economic crisis that hit the whole world. But he is far from making a critical or moralistic portrait. On the contrary. We are shown a young entrepreneur without a euro in his pockets who creates an empire from nothing. He falsifies documents and impersonates a wealthy investor who buys property with money he doesn’t have and who steals from the poor people who trust him.

There is a clear feeling of admiration on the part of the author towards his character. It justifies it. On the other hand, we did not find anyone with moral integrity in the film complet, everyone sold in front of a briefcase full of bills, no matter whether they were bankers or bailiffs. This landscape, so monochromatic in the ethical aspect, creates a tonal climate more fabulous than realistic.

Brick fever has the same problem when using the easy stereotype resource. The majority of female and immigrant characters are poorly described. I understand that the film bets mainly on light-hearted comedy, but that schematic simplicity ends up damaging it.

Conclusion of ‘Brick Fever’

Brick Fever is a German film written and directed by Cüneyt Kaya (UMMAH – Among Friends). It could be considered as  a dramatic comedy with elements of criminal thriller that has an eminently cynical tone about the human condition. Although he deals with the issue of the housing bubble and the speculators who lined themselves at the expense of humble people, he does not make any critical or moralistic speech, quite the contrary.

The film is the chronicle of a scam, from the scammer’s point of view. And the director feels comfortable in that portrait where ethics slips through the fingers at the same speed as the bills are counted. Brick fever is a fairly nimble and entertaining film that becomes too inconsequential due to the absence of a discourse that goes beyond the purely cynical.

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