Hermine Hunteburth's The Trio is a spin on the delectable theme of the interloper moving in on a household and shaking up the libidos of various members, be they male or female. The Servant, Teorema, The Lickerish Quartet and the upcoming Dry Cleaning are among the films that play with this subject.
The Trio has young Rudolf (Felix Eitner)-a blundering thief-hook up with the more seasoned Zobel (Götz George) and his pixie-ish daughter Lizzie (Jeanette Hain), as they travel via Zobel's trailer to various German cities where they steal purses and pick pockets for a living. Rudolf only comes into their lives after Zobel's lover Karl (Christian Redl) succumbs to an accident after he bungles a job. The warmth between the two middle-aged lovers in the early scenes gives way to more steamy couplings when Rudolf takes Karl's place in the workforce.
Rudolf, displaying far more skill as a lothario than as a pickpocket, conquers both father and daughter, very easy and eager targets. Zobel misses his beloved Karl. And Lizzie, restless after having shared cramped quarters with a father and his lover, is ripe for sex. As might be expected, each tumbles with Rudolf unbeknownst to the other. But Rudolf's two-timing evolves into a happy ending for the trio, which ultimately becomes a quartet after Rudolf and Lizzie marry.
The Trio, with its tacky backdrop of trailer parks, inner-city malls, fast-food stalls and carnivals, has an amusingly kitschy look that recalls Percy Adlon's equally playful and quirky Sugarbaby. Production values and performances are all fine here and the characters are likeable losers.
Nicely done but routine, The Trio is nonchalant in its depiction of frontal male nudity and in its sex scenes. Such insouciance is a tradition in European films that art-house audiences have always welcomed. But sexual candor is a harder sell these days in the competitive marketplace.