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Falco (DVD Review)

20 Mar, 2011 By: Billy Gil

Prebook 3/22/11; Street 4/19/11
$24.99 DVD
Not rated.
In German with English subtitles.
Stars Manuel Rubey, Nicolas Ofczarek, Christian Tramitz, Patricia Aulitzky, Susi Stach.

Falco tells the story of Johann (Hans) Hölzel, better known as Falco, the chart-topping Austrian singer behind such ’80s hits as “Der Kommissar” and “Rock Me Amadeus.”

The film weirdly starts with a cameo from Grace Jones, who plays a woman describing the car accident that ended Falco’s life in the Dominican Republic in 1998. From there we are transported to Vienna, where he began as a fledgling musician, playing bass in a band before reforming his persona as the suit-wearing, rapping Falco.

After initially being rejected by the music industry in Austria, Falco becomes a hit in Germany and eventually everywhere else, topping the U.S. charts with the campy “Rock Me Amadeus” and its accompanying wigs ‘n’ Victorian dresses video. But in his personal life, we see Falco deteriorating, as his marriage fails and he falls deeper into an addiction to alcohol and cocaine.

While it’s interesting to see the darker side of an artist who’s revered in his home country but is somewhat of a punchline in the United States, the film falls into some music biopic pitfalls. The drugs, the estranged marriage, the rise to success and gradual downfall … you’ve seen it all before, from A Star Is Born to La Vie en Rose. What stays with you longer is a handful of powerful scenes in which we see Falco, played with maximum intensity by Manuel Rubey, spinning violently out of control, signaling the price and fleeting nature of fame.

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