Ricco (2002)

Genres - Visual Arts  |   Sub-Genres - Art History, Biography  |  
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Ricco is the last film of Swiss-American director Mike Wildbolz, who died shortly before its release at age 55. Strangely enough, the subject of Wildbolz's documentary also died relatively young, the painter Erich "Ricco" Wassmer (1915-1972). Perhaps because it was prophetic, or because Wildbolz sensed his fate and truly identified with Ricco, the life of the artist is related with a captivating poignancy, from his privileged but troubled childhood in Germany, to his artistic triumphs in Bern, to his career-wrecking imprisonment on the charge of immorality, ending with his life-draining illness in France. Wildbolz portrays Ricco as a victim throughout, a man misunderstood by bourgeois society and despised for his pursuit of exotic experiences (which, by the way, included an obsession with naked boys). In this sense, Ricco is in keeping with many of Wildbolz's other films (like Das Klienten and Kantoni i Ticinos), a sympathetic handling of talented but flawed individuals undone by destructive habits.