TIFF15 REVIEW: Der Schwarm [The Fantastic Love of Beeboy & Flowergirl] [2015]

Score: 8/10 | ★ ★ ★

Rating: NR | Runtime: 9 minutes | Release Date: 2015 (Germany)
Studio: Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg
Director(s): Clemens Roth
Writer(s): Clemens Roth

“They had to realize that love was nothing but fantasy”

In the grand picture book aesthetic of Bryan Fuller‘s “Pushing Daises”, Clemens Roth‘s Der Schwarm [The Fantastic Love of Beeboy & Flowergirl] is a delightful little fantasy of over-the-top whimsy. Peter (Florian Prokop) is forced to live inside a bee suit due to killer bees perpetually floating around him like dirt on Peanuts‘ Pig-Pen, destined to create honey and live a life of solitude. Elsa (Elisa Schlott), a waitress who loves flowers the world over and makes them out of origami, is full of life and wonder beyond her four walls. One fateful day they meet, fall in love, and try to find a way to rid themselves of the bees to live happily ever after. Compromise isn’t changing one half for the benefit of the other, though, and like with most relationships something else must be done.

Narrated by the affably soothing voice of Martin Umbach, this eccentric tale of romance is littered with flashbacks, diagrams, and carefully curated sets to describe and/or deflect from courtesy of language much rosier than what we witness onscreen. Watching as the bees simultaneously torturing and providing sustenance to Peter kill his parents earns a chuckle if only because it’s flippantly dismissed as a tiny, unfortunate detail that couldn’t be avoided. The juxtaposition of sunny disposition and dark subject matter continues towards a “Romeo and Juliet”-esque finale that brings a smile to your face despite knowing exactly what the words spoken mean. But that’s the thing about love, isn’t it? It’s messy, complicated, and worth every single concession if success can be found in their aftermath.

I love the tone and the look of Roth’s work with everything placed just left of reality. After all, Peter and Elsa are seeking to leave it for the fantasyland of happiness their union seems too troublesome to find for an extended period of time. The bees appear to be animated wood block sculptures and the flowers enhanced rice paper creations glowing and moving in their folded, box-like way while the rest is left to the imagination with empty jars supposedly full of honey and newly discovered blossoms from exotic lands built at a desk without the necessity of travel. Roth’s short is infectious in its minimalist grandeur and gorgeous to behold as its bittersweet depiction of love’s sacrifices show what it ultimately means to choose it over everything else. Love quite literally conquers all.

Courtesy of TIFF

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