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Brandner Kasper, almost 70 years old, gets a visit by Father Death, who seeks to take him away. Kasper tricks him into drinking half a bottle of cherry schnaps, followed by a game of cards where 21 more years of lifetime are at stake, and where Kasper feels justified to bend the rules to his advantage. While Death feels bound to the agreement, St Peter in the Bavarian segment of Heaven learns about the mishap, and asks for a quick resoltion that gets Kasper where he belongs (purgatory) and hence the heavenly history back in order.
I am sure not a single person outside Bavaria will play with the idea of watching this, but actually, I could imagine it is fun for foreigners German and abroad. The story is a very old one, the tv version on a sacred re-run loop on Bavarian tv. This film version allows Vilsmaier to play with his greatest talent, and that is to show the shrewdness of the Bavarian and Austrian Alpes people. Grumpy and warm-hearted, rough and cruel, incredibly jolly and musical – all comes together with long-standing traditions that will appear as exotic to outsiders as the tribal rites of Amazon cannibals. Only more funny. The two main actors are near brilliant: Franz-Xaver Kroetz, well-reputed stageplay and occasional tv actor establishes himself as sly old poacher – and comedian Bully Herbig visibly has a great time creating Faces of Death – Drunk Death, mostly.
Complete nonsense, of course, but about 15 times more well-conceived, coherent and intelligent than – say – latest Woody Allen atrocities.

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