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Beat – Existentialism, Stoicism Meet Berlin Techno Club Scene

The beat never stops in this Amazon original drama set in Berlin.  It takes a deeply disturbing human art installation, we'll just call it that, to bring the party to a screeching halt.  What is for so many an expression of freedom and perhaps hedonism, is transformed into a nightmarish crime scene by a well molded psychopath. Jannis Niewoher plays Beat, our reluctant hero and nightclub DJ and promoter.  He and his best friend, Paul, played soulfully by Hanno Koffler, represent both the idealism of youth and the realism of adulthood.  Opening this successful techno club meant living a dream…

The beat never stops in this Amazon original drama set in Berlin.

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A club scene with young people dancing. A DJ stands in shadow with his back to us.
Techno beat club in Berlin.

The beat never stops in this Amazon original drama set in Berlin.  It takes a deeply disturbing human art installation, we’ll just call it that, to bring the party to a screeching halt.  What is for so many an expression of freedom and perhaps hedonism, is transformed into a nightmarish crime scene by a well molded psychopath.

Jannis Niewoher plays Beat, our reluctant hero and nightclub DJ and promoter.  He and his best friend, Paul, played soulfully by Hanno Koffler, represent both the idealism of youth and the realism of adulthood.  Opening this successful techno club meant living a dream while simultaneously having to come down to earth.  Paul does this better than Beat, who takes his name from the kind of music he loves.  Beat books the other DJ’s, plans the parties and lives the life 24/7.  For him ‘living the life’ means he’s all in, body and soul.  Like a good Method actor, he experiences every nuance of his role as the party-maker:  the drugs, the alcohol, the crazy German kinky sex, the free love, the dancing, the drugs and then also the drugs.

A profile of actor Jannis Niewöhner looking back over his shoulder. He has a buzzed haircut and a 5 o'clock shdow.
Actor Jannis Niewöhner plays Beat.

While he avoids the daytime, because, as he says, “The daytime is full of assholes”, his best friend gets married, has a child with a heart problem, runs all other aspects of the techno club and secretly takes on a silent partner (who happens to be an arms dealer) to help take some of the pressure off him.  He is responsible and thus very vulnerable to a too good to be true “partner” played brilliantly by Alexander Fehling as Phillip.

You might be wondering how the Existentialism fits into the picture.  Probably an unlikely pairing but a very effective one.  Both villans in this story, while unknown to each other, have a common life philosophy  “We all die alone.  No matter what you choose to do or believe, no matter who you are, you live in a fantasy of your own design, your friends, family, church, are constructs of society, lies to fill our time and hide the truth – that we are alone, and life is meaningless.

A man with dark, short hair and cuts on his face stands in an office holding a record and signing.
Actor Kostja Ullmann plays the mental disturbed Jasper.

It’s no wonder Phillip looks so out of place in the club.  It’s no wonder Jasper, a former school mate of Beat’s and the first psycho in the story, chooses the club to get everyone’s attention.  They can’t pay attention while they’re living a lie!

This is where the ESI steps in, a fictional organization, the “European Secret Intelligence” to recruit Beat to spy on Phillip and report back to them.  While he reluctantly takes on this role, mostly to protect his friend Paul, his childhood features more and more prominently in the unfolding mystery and Beat faces some deep seated fears about his family.

Emilia holds a gun, pointing it at an unseen person.
ESI agent Emilia defends herself.

While he’s working with the ESI, Beat is forced to defend his world view and while it is comprised of statements like, “The day time is filled with assholes,” it’s also apparent that despite being an orphan, Beat knows and understands the meaning of love and the power it holds.  He says to Phillip, “I have always felt loved.”  And we believe him because of the way he treats and looks after his friends.  His Stoic attitude of ‘What has been must have  had to have been.  What must be will be,” is a counterpoint to his more primitive ‘Stick it to the man’ philosophy and demonstrates the growth and depth of his character.

A picture of Beat in the Berlin Techno club. Others dance around him as he stands shirtless with both hands over his heart.
Beat in the Berlin Techno night club.

One of the strongest components of this script is the multilayered story lines which fall together in perfect timing and coordination.  Beat’s childhood, the bodies found at the club, Phillip’s illegal businesses, and interestingly, the ESI agent’s real motivation for recruiting Beat, all have clues hinted at in the beginning and brilliantly fulfilled in the end.

There isn’t a weak link in the cast.  All the performances raise the level of the series to an outstanding and original work.  Watch it.  Love it.  Keep the kiddies away – Did I mention the sex parties?  Not a lot left to the imagination.  This is strictly adult fare!

 

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Beat
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Melody Stewart is the founder of act.land and President of iactingstudioskc.com. She is a filmmaker in Kansas City.