A project which has been developing for the past several years, it would appear 2020 is finally the year in which Ulrich Seidl’s Wicked Games will at last be unveiled, the Austrian auteur’s first narrative feature since his final installment in his underrated Paradise trilogy debuted back in 2013 (at this rate, his long-gestating decades-long project Herr Grasl won’t see fruition for another decade).
Seidl bounces back and forth between narrative and documentary (he was initially a well-renowned documentarian who broke into narrative cinema with 2001’s celebrated Dog Days, which snagged the Grand Special Jury Prize in Venice—he would return to the Lido in 2012 with Paradise: Faith, which won the Special Jury Prize), and over the past several years has released 2014’s In the Basement (review) and 2016’s Safari. Seidl competed in Cannes with 2007’s Import/Export and 2012’s Paradise: Love, while the final installment of his trilogy, Paradise: Hope (review), competed in Berlin. Seidl, serving as producer, was financed on his latest project through the assistance of Filminstitut, Vienna Film Fund, Film Location Austria, and Lower Austria. His Paradise DP Wolfgang Thaler (also responsible for Michael Glawogger’s Whores’ Glory, 2011) returns, and the cast includes Michael Thomas, Georg Friedrich (North Face, 2008; Bright Nights, 2017), Hans Michael Rehberg (Schindler’s List, 1993).
Gist: Re-teaming with his usual scribe, wife Veronika Franz, the narrative of Wicked Games concerns two adult brothers who return home to Lower Austria to bury their mother. Both men return to their lives, one in Romania and one in Rimini. However, they’re forced to contend with other troubling elements from their past.
Release Date/Prediction: Seidl filmed from April 2017 to May 2018 on Wicked Games—so what’s the hold up? While one assumes Seidl could be a contender for Cannes 2020 (where he could compete for the third time following 2007’s Import/Export and 2012’s Paradise: Love), Berlin could also be calling, where Seidl competed in 2013 with Paradise: Hope.