Queer 52: Jahr Des Tigers (Tor Iben, Germany, 2017)

Jahr Des Tigers or its English title The Year I Lost My Mind is a thriller from the prolific Tor Iben – responsible for other queer releases The Passenger and The Visitor. Yet The Year I Lost My Mind is his most impressive as a writer-director with this startling look at unrequited love being a provocative, challenging thriller.

Closeted young ne’er-do-well Lars (Alexander Tsypilev) develops an obsession with handsome gay university lecturer Tom (Julien Lickert) upon breaking into his house. Lars’ secret visits become more frequent and menacing as he obsesses over every detail of Tom’s life.

Iben isn’t afraid to embrace the darker side of the human psyche in this exploration of obsession – showcased in his naturalistic style and restrained direction – even when veering into horror-thriller territory. Lars is a fascinating central character – closeted and an outcast with an obsession with macabre masks (representative of the masks we hide behind ‘in the closet’). He’s fallen into a life of petty crime with a lack of direction and acceptance about who he is and his place in the world.

Tom presents a juxtaposed image – the handsome openly gay lecturer (who even lectures in queer history). He’s eloquent focused and staggeringly handsome (thanks to the natural good looks of the gorgeous Lickert). Yet both men, Tom and Lars, are united by their sexual desires and Lars is aware of this – seeking the life of openness and queer expression that his subject has. He lives vicariously through Tom – until he reaches a point where he wants to be involved in Tom’s life and not simply an observer.

Iben delves into complex relationship dynamics and leaves much mystery in the character of Lars. Both physically and emotionally interested in Tom, Lars is driven by a sense of lust, jealousy and desired-kinship. Jahr Des Tigers is constructed in a Hitchockian fashion with influences found in Fassbiner’s queer representation and Bunels’ arguably queer surrealism. As the narrative carefully unwinds, Iben’s film builds on the thrills and sexually-charged tension to a shattering crescendo.

Jahr Des Tigers/The Year I Lost My Mind is now streaming on Dekkoo.

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