Opening 15 Aug 2019
Ich war zuhause aber (I was at Home, but) by the Hamburger director Angela Schanelec, was a perfect example of modern-style film-making that puts me to sleep. In fact, in the course of the film, I noticed that half of the audience indeed was sleeping. The film starts off well, as a hare races across the screen, while an old dog attempts to catch it. In the next scene, an old dog has successfully captured the rabbit and an old donkey enters into a dilapidated old house. All I could think of was: has this something to do with The Bremen Town Musicians (Die Bremer Stadtmusikanten) fairytale? Then the film switches to the return of the film’s protagonist, Astrid’s son Phillip (Jakob Lassalle). His disappearance into the forest and reappearance in a strange, zombie-like state has left his mother with much to explain. Astrid (Maren Eggert) herself seems unemotional, at times awkward and constantly trying to understand what is going on with her son.
Director Angela Schanelec is clearly experimenting with narrative and it is so structured with every aspect being controlled, I felt the hand of the director in every scene of this film. I could even imagine her voice saying to actors, “Ok start moving, now stop, now turn, now move again.” Then in the middle of the film comes the play Hamlet which really annoyed me. I felt like it was manipulative and an amateur attempt to philosophically explain the essence of this film. I felt like she was trying to attempt to do what Wim Wenders did in the 1980s with Wings über Berlin (Wings of Desire) but she failed miserably. Although there were a few comical moments, I found this film tedious. I cannot understand why director Schanelec received the Silver Bear for Best Director at the 2019 Berlinale Film Festival: a great disappointment in my eyes. (Shelly Schoeneshoefer)