“Say ‘Little Nigger.’ I am still small,” quips the young Afro-German Leroy (Alain Morel) when his new girlfriend’s Nazi Party family ask what they should call him. When Leroy and Eva (Anna Hausburg) first meet everything seems like a basic romantic comedy, until Leroy finds out her parents are way right-wing and her five brothers are hardcore skinheads. Rather than surrender to her brother’s orders to, “Go back to Africa!” Leroy goes into overdrive with black culture. He discovers Malcolm X, Shaft, and the curious Blacula after walking into a Black Panther office.
Directed and written by Armin Völckers, Leroy takes a humorous approach to racism in the post-World War II Germany with a cast of fresh faces (not just because they are German but for many of them, including Völckers, this is their first film). Völckers is able to successfully explore discrimination in a country where roughly 18% of the population is foreign without offending anyone, except maybe the skinheads, depending on how sensitive they are.
The characters struggle with whether or not it is right to call someone a Jew (Jood rather, the entire movie is in German by the way) or Jewish. Except for Leroy’s highly sexual half-Greek sidekick with an affinity for hair-waxing, Dimitrios (Constantin von Jascheroff), who never makes the effort to be politically correct, and refers to Eva as a “Nazi cow.”
While the entire film is hilarious through and through, it wouldn’t be possible without Morel as Leroy (sorry to sound like an acceptance speech). His combined awkwardness and effortless wit can only be compared to Michael Cera (Superbad, Juno) but it is his huge afro that takes his loveableness over the top. As far as foreign films go Leroy is the best of its kind and as far as film goes it does no wrong. It has sex, underage drinking, violence, Smart Cars, and German rap—it’s flawless.
May 16th, 2008
Seattle International Film Festival
Thursday, June 12th @ 9:30 p.m. @ Pacific Place Cinema
Saturday, June 14th @ 1:30 p.m. @ Pacific Place Cinema
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