The Toilers And The Wayfarers

on March 14, 1997 by Kim Williamson
The story of two German-American teenagers growing up in New Ulm, Minn., and of a German immigrant just on the other side of adulthood, "The Toilers and the Wayfarers" is a coming-of-age gay film in which questions of sexuality remain secondary to commentary on character. An affectingly simple score is provided by Minneapolis musician Chan Poling, and Jim Tittle's 16mm black-and-white photography is consistently interesting.
   Writer/dir ector Keith Froelich's narrative is elliptical but exhibits a sense of knowing where it's going (except for one jarring scene, in which a father previously shown only as gentle and caring turns on his son for no apparent reason other than the story line needs it). The acting of the three leads is two-thirds successful. As Dieter, an upright good son whose family disowns him for being different, Matt Klemp gives a persuasive performance, as does Ralf Schirg (who also produces) as Udo, an alcoholic German immigrant in search of good times with whom Dieter splits for Minneapolis. Much less persuasive is Andrew Woodhouse as Dieter's best friend, the outcast Phillip who flees Ulm to become a big-city gay prostitute; his line readings seem read rather than lived. Starring Matt Klemp, Ralf Schirg and Andrew Woodhouse. Directed and written by Keith Froelich. Produced by Karen Manion, Ralf Schirg and Keith Froelich. An Outsider release. Drama. English- and German-language; English subtitles. Unrated. Running time: 75 min.
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