The Stratosphere Girl - Movie Review

  • 01 November 2005

Rating: 3 out of 5

Matthias X. Oberg has some weird ideas. But you knew he was avant-garde because his middle initial is X.

The Stratosphere Girl is about that rarified subculture of young white women (preferably blonde) who live in Tokyo and work as "hostesses" in upscale nightclubs. It's a fine line between waitress and hooker, and its a world in which Angela (newcomer Chloé Winkel) finds herself thrown.

An artist by trade, Angela finds that comic books don't pay the bills but snuggling up to rich Japanese businessmen does. No sooner does she start looking for places to hide her cash than she starts to find herself hated by her hostess roommates (who put glass in her soup) while uncovering some questionable dealings in the questionable trade. She eventually earns her titular nickname from an afroed maybe-Yakuza gangster, who believes she is not of this earth. From Winkel's strange yet lovely looks and unplaceable accent, he may be right.

All the while, the story is narrated by Angela, who sketches bits and pieces of each scene: We watch the movie meld from drawing to live action and back again. Say what you will about the lazy plot; it's one of the most innovative forms of storytelling I've seen in an indie flick.

Oberg has made a few films that I'm unfamiliar with, but his dreamlike work here is something to pay attention to. If he had more of a story to go on (I didn't figure out what was going on until half an hour into the 80-minute movie... and that includes 10 minutes of closing credits), Oberg might have had a real cult hit on his hands here. As it stands, he's made one of the best visual party soundtracks ever put to DVD.

Facts and Figures

Year: 2005

Production compaines: TLA Releasing

Reviews 3 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Matthias X. Oberg

Producer: Karl Baumgartner, Christoph Friedel

Screenwriter: Matthias X. Oberg

Starring: Chloé Winkel as Angela, Tara Elders as Polly, Filip Peeters as Kruilman, Burt Kwouk as Papa-San, Tuva Novotny as Monika

Also starring: Jon Yang, Linda Steinhoff, Karl Baumgartner, Christoph Friedel