Rimini (Blu-ray Review)

  • Reviewed by: Stuart Galbraith IV
  • Review Date: May 20, 2024
  • Format: Blu-ray Disc
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Rimini (Blu-ray Review)


Ulrich Seidl

Release Date(s)

2022 (August 29, 2023)


Ulrich Seidl Filmproduktion (Big World Pictures/Vinegar Syndrome)
  • Film/Program Grade: A-
  • Video Grade: A
  • Audio Grade: A
  • Extras Grade: B+

Rimini (Blu-ray)

Buy it Here!


I was a little wary going in to Rimini (2022, though filmed in 2017), a divisive Austrian-French-German co-production; people seem to love or hate it. I was pleasantly surprised. It’s kind of like a John Waters film done in the style of Jim Jarmuscsh, about an unseemly, middle-aged and potbellied lounge singer working in Rimini, a northern Italian seaside resort city (coincidentally the birthplace of Federico Fellini). As a character study, it’s endlessly fascinating.

Richie Bravo (Michael Thomas) is a former Austrian pop star in his late fifties specializing in Schlager—sentimental pop love songs. Long past his prime, the heavy-drinking, chain-smoking Richie still attracts German-speaking fans on cheap package tours bussed into Rimini during the off-season, when the beaches are empty, the streets are covered in snow, and a thick fog covers Rimini like a shroud. His devoted fans are mostly women in their late 60s and 70s, Richie rarely drawing crowds of more than a few dozen spectators. He sells t-shirts and CDs, but mostly supplements his income as a gigolo having sex with elderly yet amorous admirers.

His long-estranged adult daughter, Tessa (Tessa Göttlicher), turns up, demanding decades-worth of unpaid child support. Richie is anxious to reconcile with his bitter offspring, her Arab boyfriend hanging around the fringes, but Richie is already living hand-to-mouth and can’t possibly raise the money owed her. He rummages through the nursing home room where his father (Hans-Michael Rehberg, in his last film role) lives, but when Richie finds a bankbook, his dementia-ridden father can’t remember the password to access the account.

Rimini is light on plot but rich with characterization. Despite Richie’s alarming fashion sense—bleached-blonde hair, sealskin coat, cowboy boots, etc.—and poor physical shape, Richie being all gut with spindly little legs, he’s nonetheless a consummate performer. He may not be a great crooner, but he certainly convinces his audiences that he is, partly by putting on shows as if he were playing to huge crowds, and by personalizing every performance. During his songs, he wanders the room singling out women for possible sexual favors later, singing to them one-on-one. He warmly greets fresh busloads of German tourists, and despite his meager income (we see him paid a paltry 200 Euros for one such performance) he generously buys his fans drinks afterwards. Richie may reside at the bottom-rung of show business, but he’s a celebrity nonetheless. Thomas’s wonderful performance shows us a celebrity who’s been one for so long he’s on auto-pilot half the time; it’s become instinctive, yet his warmth shines through even his semen-stained sealskin.

That warmth includes nighttime sex acts with women old enough to be his mother, Richie showering them with compliments about how beautiful they are, how arousing his finds them, and talking dirty to keep their stamina up. One gets the sense he does this not to squeeze every Euro out of them that he possibly can, but rather more out of the same professionalism and sincerity he applies to his work as a lounge singer. He might not find them physically attractive really, but you’d never know it from what director Ulrich Seidl shows us. Richie genuinely seems to like all these admiring, horny old women.

Undoubtedly, some viewers are turned off by these uncomfortable-to-watch sex scenes. One of Richie’s customers, a woman probably in her late sixties, keeps her even order, nearly deaf mother (in her 90s) in an adjacent room while they get it on.

Seidl’s direction makes superb use of the film’s fog-bound locations. I’ve never been to Rimini (along the Adriatic), but in the movie it has a seedy, decaying glamour: omnipresent slot machines, homeless sleeping in alleyways, mostly-empty bars, discotheques with lots of neon. Richie’s home is a marvel of production design—clearly purchased during Richie’s prime 20-30 years before, it’s a star’s home long in decline, the bachelor pad equivalent of Gloria Swanson’s mansion in Sunset Boulevard.

Big World Pictures’ Blu-ray of Rimini presents the film in its original 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio. Shot digitally, the presentation here is spot-on, as is the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix with optional English subtitles. Region “A” encoded.

The only extra on the disc itself is a trailer, but the release includes a CD of the film’s soundtrack and a 10-page full-color booklet with an essay by visual artist Steven Boone.

Director/co-writer Seidl’s mixture of warts-and-all grotesque with unexpected humanism is rather beguiling. By the end of Rimini I found myself quite liking and even admiring Richie Bravo, something that would have seemed unthinkable from its opening scenes. Highly recommended.

- Stuart Galbraith IV