Rising High review – German Netflix film surfaces a flawed protagonist

By Daniel Hart
Published: April 17, 2020 (Last updated: December 15, 2023)
Netflix German film Rising High (Betonrausch)


German Netflix film Rising High has all the ingredients to expose a flawed character; it’s fun yet very familiar to films we’ve seen before.

German Netflix film Rising High (Betonrausch) came out on the platform on April 17, 2020. This review contains no spoilers.

One of the reasons The Wolf of Wall Street was so successful critically and with salivating audiences is because you were never expected to sympathize with the protagonist. You wanted the lead character to be slapped in the face and thrown off his luxury seaside boat. No-one cares for selfish scumbags that rig the system for themselves. Rising High is similar in some ways, but the story does attempt to find an emotional structure.

Rising High (Betonrausch) follows Viktor, who after finding a way of renting out penthouses to Bulgarian immigrants, accidentally crosses paths with Gerry, who was bringing in the immigrants. The two men pair up and decide to upend the property market by selling overpriced properties with the inflation making them both extremely wealthy. The only issue is that their scheme finds tax loops, and due to the extortionate nature of shafting homebuyers, the Jenga effect is easy.

Netflix’s Rising High tries to instill a story where you feel sorry for Viktor. He had a childhood where he believes his nuclear family was torn apart due to a lack of money, rather than a lack of love. His upbringing has pushed the character to thirst for money over security. The German film sees a man crippled by his own deceiving desires. 

But it’s hard to feel sorry for a character that completely dismisses other people by his own actions. There are plenty of scenes that feel endless where Viktor and Gerry spend time at a strip joint, splashing money like it has no purpose. In a way, you pity them slightly as money does not seem to fill a void.  Rising High seems to singularly demonstrate that people like Viktor and Gerry find joy from the game, rather than the outcome. It’s not about the money it’s about the rush.

And the Netflix film brings forward that rush rather well; the process looks fun but morally wrong at the same time. It’s directed in such a way where the characters do not sense what is coming, rather they trigger the next steps when the game becomes stale. Rising High is also very well acted, David Kross, Emily Goss and Frederick Lau leading the way to honor the script.

If anything, Rising High (Betonrausch) is similar to War Dogs; both men are way over their heads. Add it to your list now.

Movie Reviews, Netflix