Everybody loves an adorable kitty cat, don’t they? What’s not to like? Big eyes, a soft rumbling purr and their fluffy fur getting everywhere – well, alright we could all do with a cat that doesn’t moult but you get the point. As the title suggests, Austrian film Tomcat (Kater) resolves around a feline called Moses and his owners, gay lovers Stefan and Andreas.
Happiness consumes the screen for the first 20 minutes. Their connection with one another is how any relationship should be and can be. Their openness, their fondness for one another and of course, their affection for their cat transcends all negativity making the viewer envious of their carefree, full of music lives. This dream creative couple, Andreas (Philipp Hochmair) an orchestra manager and his partner Stefan (Lukas Turtur) a French-horn player seem to have mastered the art of being with another person until Stefan snaps one morning and accidentally kills their beloved pet Moses. Unable to explain why he did such a thing; warranted grieving consumes them both as they quickly fall apart fearing that they never really knew one another in the first place. Even though the pair desperately try, they cannot move past this inexplicable event. Trying to conceal their true feelings to their friend’s and colleague’s works but it is only a matter of time before one of them breaks.
For a lot of people, watching a film that brings harm to any animal is a complete no go. And when it comes to a domestic cat there are sure to be people screaming ‘hell no’ from all corners of the room and quite rightly so. Yet, Tomcat does have something other to offer than such a devastating act. Both lead actors put all their energy in to playing this duo – not to mention how utterly delightful Toni the cat is at playing Moses (how on earth did they get him to yawn and pose on cue?). Tomcat also does wonders for representation of gay men on screen, and in turn relationships in themselves. The sex scenes, tastefully done embody realism even if a kiss or a deep look into the eyes lingers for a tad longer than it really should. Indeed, director writer Haenal Klaus’ feature brings us something fresh, raw and above all else true to his tale.
However, the whole event seems convoluted and whilst watching the final throes, one’s thoughts waver to the first half of this project that was far more engaging rather than dealing with the pitiful versions Stefan and Andreas have become. Biblical references are inescapable; the name Moses, Stefan picking fruit in the garden and banishment to lonely hell away from his man are but a few. There seems to be an ounce of hope for them after Stefan falls whilst picking plums in their garden damaging his eye and for a moment we think all will be forgotten – but could you ever forget that the person you once wholly-loved has a terribly violent streak?
Shot beautifully with an equally serene soundtrack, Tomcat has many elements to it. Accomplished in a somewhat drawn-out manner which is certainly an acquired taste there is no escaping the emotion that resides at its heart.