Risks & Side Effects [Risiken & Nebenwirkungen] — German Film Festival 2022

Review by John P. Harvey.

Kathrin (Inka Friedrich) learns that the reason she has been tired of late is that she has lost most of her kidney function.  She will need a kidney donation within a few weeks, but the waiting time for a donated kidney is six years unless a living person of a matching blood type donates a kidney for her use.

Luckily, Kathrin’s husband, Arnold (Samuel Finzi), is of a matching blood type.  Kathrin says she doesn’t expect him to offer her one of his kidneys.  But his hesitation before committing himself to volunteer it hurts her.  Then his fears are heightened by reading a long list of the procedure’s established side effects upon and risks to the donor.

Yet when their friend Götz (Thomas Mraz) realises that he has the matching blood type, he immediately offers his own kidney.  His wife, Diana (Pia Hierzegger), objects… until a secret surfaces that will change her mind.  Arnold, too, is unhappy, because Götz’s generosity highlights Arnold’s hesitation, his fearfulness, and his self-centredness.  But he remains unable to decide one way or the other.  And the pressure mounting as time ticks by leads to behaviours and revelations that nobody expected.

When some entertaining arguments bring everybody’s mistakes finally out into the open, the consequences feel just about right.  But, although it’s addressing life-and-death loyalties, Risks & Side Effects — played with a good deal of subtlety and keeping a twist or two in reserve — remains comedic almost throughout.

There are far worse ways to pass the time in the waiting room.

Screening at Palace cinemas.

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