Walking on a thin line
The dull noise heard in the background does not come from punching, although the monotone rhythm of the windshield wipers is reminiscent of the pounding of boxing gloves. Rain is drumming on the roof non-stop while a young man inside the car tells of his first fight. Today the time has come, the day of the fight that will decide everything. It’s easy to say the most important match is always the next one – but for Ibo at this instant it is really true that nothing else counts. Depending on the outcome, he feels the threat of megalomania or complete defeat. He just watched a video of Muhammad Ali, when Ali was twenty years old and fought Sonny Liston. Ibo is twenty-six and has been training at the Box Union Favoriten.
“As usual, it’s time that’s fucking you up, right?” Verdran Kos rarely speaks to his protagonist because he knows Ibo has no time. Since there are only a few hours till the fight, this is the perfect moment for Walking on a thin line to take a look back at the past ten weeks: Ibo pounds a punching bag, gets the team philosophy lecture from his trainer (“This is our work.”), and has a tense conversation with his girlfriend at the kitchen table. You feel the tension and how it inexorably mounts over the course of the next days and weeks. The scenes during which the camera finally gets moving again almost have a calming effect, accompanying Ibo on his running workout through Vienna, hearing the hard sound of every step and every strike of the punching bag that drives the story forward.
Ibo dreams of the moment of triumphant glory that will make all the suffering worthwhile. Here money can play no part, the pride of friends and family has to be enough. The fine line signaled by the title is between hope and resignation, between joy and pain – but in the end in a near empty boxing hall, also between victory and defeat.
Translation: Eve Heller
Ich wandere auf einem schmalen Grat