This week our writers peruse the psychedelic and hone in on the hallucinative in their exploration of Michael Glawogger's absurd Austrian stoner comedy CONTACT HIGH (2009).
HIGH ON LIFE ISSUES
One of the key elements that have attributed to the success of comedies involving drug use is the foregrounding of friendship, or some form of odd pairing, that ensures a comedic back and forth for the audience to enjoy. CONTACT HIGH (Michael Glawogger 2009) utilises this formula, devoting ample time to an array of colourful characters, while also exploring contemporary issues involving drug use, xenophobia and homosexuality, expertly masked in a buddy film.
While the central plot involves the retrieval of a bag, it simply acts as a plot device to explore these themes of friendship and unlikely pairings. Contemporary issues are deconstructed in a comedic yet formidable way that does not overshadow the light-hearted nature of the film, but instead complement the overarching, ludicrous nature of how drug use is presented onscreen. By not highlighting the contemporary issues as a main story thread, it allows the unfold as an irreverent comedy. The comedic tone could be interpreted as CONTACT HIGH not wanting to politicise its narrative and implies a reluctance to highlight issues as issues. Instead, the film presents homosexual characters, frequent drug use and the stereotyping of ethnic groups. For example, a character (Imran Mirza) simply called Pakistani is the butt of several jokes relating to suicide bombings, but they remain jokes, highlighting the reluctance of the film to politicise itself. Instead, the film remains comedic, rather than preaching to its audience.
CONTACT HIGH does not promote these themes but ultimately intertwines pressing contemporary matters with drug-induced comedy throughout the film. It leaves the audience with a simple story to enjoy but with relevant, hard-hitting undertones to be explored with further viewings.
Every day this week a different writer will provide their perspective on our MUBIVIEWS film and each post will be open to comments from our readers. Watch CONTACT HIGH on mubi.com until 19 May 2017 and join the discussion!
One MUBI film, five perspectives, endless possibilities.