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My Good Hans (Liebster Hans, bester Pjotr / Milyy Hans, Dorogoy Petr)
by Rose Finlay

Director: Alexander Mindadze – Russia, UK, Germany

Hans (Jakob Diehl) is a member of a small group of  German engineers working on creating optical lenses in Russia in 1941 before  the two countries went to war. At first, he seems to be the quiet one, the one  who is almost forgotten on the sidelines when among his louder, more vivacious  colleagues. However, when Hans causes an explosion at the factory which leads  to several deaths, tensions rise between the Germans and the Russians.

My Good  Hans has two distinct parts. It begins as a sort of drawing room drama. The  first act of the film focuses only on the four German engineers in their home.  They have been away from Germany too long and there are still no results to be  seen in the glass factory. The tensions at work show themselves in their  interpersonal relationships with each other and everyone is on edge, everyone  except Hans who seems to be the less intelligent one, the one who is simply a  sidekick to the others. This quickly changes when the film shifts to the  factory and Hans causes an explosion. It is clear that it is no accident, the  man simply snaps one day. Despite the deaths they have finally made the perfect  optical glass. This success brings joy to the others, but Hans begins to spiral  out of control, particularly due to the continued presence of the Russian  specialist Pyotr (Andryus Daryala) who is the one person who saw Hans’ actions.

The first part of the film feels almost like a poorly  done stage production at a local theater. The characters yell a lot, they wave  their arms a lot and walk around in exaggerated ways. When it shifts to the  factory, things change. The film becomes more incomprehensible. The constant  verbal barrage of the beginning subsides and the audience is left with quiet  Hans, who doesn’t feel the need to explain really anything about what he is  feeling or why he is going off the rails. His actions become more and more  bizarre and the world itself also changes as the Russians become suspicious of  his actions and those connected with him. Hans’ character is a clear  representation of the relationship between Germany and Russia just prior to the  invasion. What starts as an economic cooperation, ordered and normal, breaks  down one day and results in suspicion and madness. Thus the stylistic choices  of the film itself also are influenced by this relationship and Hans’  representative mindset, moving from logical to illogical as it progresses.

My Good Hans is an interesting film, particularly upon analysis.  However, it is often obtuse, the acting seems a bit over-the-top, and it tends  to drag for very long periods of time. Perhaps in defter hands this could have  been an astonishing film, but as it is, it has little hope of making much of an  impact, even within critical circles.