Opening 15 Sep 2005
Nina (Julia Hummer) lives in a home for girls and works as a gardener in Berlin’s Tiergarten Park. Through unusual circumstances she meets Toni (Sabine Timoteo), a vagrant girl who is wise in the ways of the world. Nina, in her loneliness, idolizes Toni and is easily manipulated by her. She invites her to her room, which leads to them both being evicted. They steal clothes in a department store and pretend to be best friends for a TV show. In a second storyline Oliver (Benno Fürmann) collects his mentally unstable wife Francoise (Marianne Basler) from a hospital. Their three-year-old daughter disappeared in a shopping center years ago. Now, Francoise sees her grown child in the faces of other young girls such as Nina, whom she invites for breakfast, until her husband arrives to explain the situation.
Director Christian Petzold has made a very slow-moving German film entirely in the Potsdamer Platz area of Berlin (although you won’t recognize it as such). It was in competition at the 2005 Berlinale. Petzold said he was inspired by photos of missing girls in a French post office and by the Grimms’ fairy tale Das Totenhemdchen (The Shroud) about a dead child whose mother’s tears wet his shroud, preventing him from ascending into heaven. Petzold said the title refers to the main characters, ghosts who live outside the real world. In spite of good intentions, excellent photography and acting, the film itself also seems so distant, so unreal, that, for me, it was difficult to relate, except to feel sorry for Oliver, the patient, long-suffering husband who stood by his wife when other men would have left her in the asylum long ago. (Becky Tan)