When Trump was elected president, many Americans threatened to leave the United States for a much less fearful existence. One such person followed through on that threat in Evelyne Tollman’s short film, Hot Mess.
In Hot Mess, Tollman plays Rachel, a Jewish American Princess (her description), who was fed up with the Trump nonsense, and she, like the California forest fires, is burning up in so many ways and looking for a way out. Needing a fresh start, she moves with her husband, Franz (Philip Stix), and son, Evan (Lucca Werzowa), to Franz’s home country of Austria.
However, she soon realizes that the grass is not always greener overseas. Rachel is having problems adjusting, and her son, Evan, resents the move even more. He’d rather spend the rest of his life gaming on his computer. Franz is dutifully trying to make the best of Rachel’s insistence on moving. However, he’s frustrated that the paperwork restoring his Austrian citizenship is taking forever to process.
“Needing a fresh start, she moves with her husband Franz and son, Evan, to Franz’s home country of Austria.”
In Austria, Rachel is finding a whole new set of problems. First, there’s the culture shock of a new homeland, where no one wants to speak English. Second, she’s a Jew in the German-speaking country of Austria. Lastly, Rachel is starting menopause and must deal with the terse Austrian bedside manner.
Hot Mess goes deeper than the story (and title) would have you believe. Rachel is a frustrated expatriate who finds that her bad luck and Jewish heritage follow her everywhere. Rachel’s troubles and woes escalate to an almost unbearable level. Ultimately she is forced to confront the core of her problems. As much as Tollman’s tale is about the character’s frustrations with life, this is a very personal story about Rachel coming into her own and searching for that one starting point to turn things around.
As Rachel, Tollman’s performance takes us on her journey with levity and humor. A distance is created between Rachel and the audience, and as we discover the root causes of her frustrations, we slowly understand her situation. Though the comedy is a bit understated, Hot Mess is a wonderfully told and insightful story.
Hot Mess premiered at the 2022 Downtown Los Angeles Film Festival.
"…a wonderfully told and insightful story."