What a Feeling – BFI Flare 2024

Reviewer: Maryam Philpott

Writer and Director: Kat Rohrer

A feel-good rom com, Kat Rohrer’s What a Feeling explores finding love in middle age and discovering the limits imposed on young women can be shaken off later on. Set in Vienna and involving two non-natives with their own complex backstory – one a cultural experience of homophobia and traditional expectations, the other the end of a heterosexual marriage – the developing relationship between “player” Fa and uptight doctor Marie-Theres eventually overcomes obstacles as two people find a better version of themselves with each other.

Following her husband’s decision to leave her announced at their anniversary dinner, Marie-Theres ends up drunk and dancing wildly in the Pussy Cat lesbian bar where she meets carpenter Fa. The next day, Fa’s mother ends up in Marie-Theres’s hospital and the women discover an unexpected connection is complicated by family strife, the interference of their friends and a disinclination to be in a relationship at all.

Rohrer’s film doesn’t tread any new ground and at 110-minutes it takes a little too long for its characters to get where they are going as the writer-director puts them through the rom com mill. There is an unusual meet-cute when Fa nearly runs over the distressed Marie-Theres, plenty of misunderstandings, reticence on both sides, a period of bliss and then a final sundering to overcome in which both women slightly compromise on their existing lifestyle to be together. What a Feeling – named for the Irene Cara song that punctuates the film – is formulaic but still plenty of fun.

Rohrer handles the overall journey with assurance, giving depth and credibility to both leads as the family distractions and their own emotional capacity gets in the way of their fledgling romance. The slightly older pairing is great to see, allowing both Fa and Marie-Theres a bit of life experience so they are not unrealistically dying of love for each other, but they build a more convincing long-lasting connection. Fa’s Iranian heritage is lightly tracked yet adds additional nuance while her love ‘em and leave ‘em relationship style and preference for married and unobtainable lovers is refreshing. Marie-Theres has the greater neuroses and never truly convinces as a doctor, but her growing self-acceptance is well-handled.

Proschat Madani as Fa and Caroline Peters as Marie-Theres have a strong chemistry that makes this rom com couple worthy of audience investment while the Pussy Cat bar where they frequently meet looks fun and provides a neutral space for the pair to meet. Screening at the BFI Flare festival What a Feeling just seems very genuine, a comedy that creates its characters and scenarios well, and while it plays it safe with the genre, the overall effect of Rohrer’s film is heartwarming.

What a Feeling is screening at BFI Flare 2024 from 13-24 March.

The Reviews Hub Score:

Formulaic fun

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The Reviews Hub Film Team is under the editorship of Maryam Philpott.

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