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Frau Stern (Ms Stern)
Germany 2019

Opening 29 Aug 2019

Directed by: Anatol Schuster
Writing credits: Anatol Schuster
Principal actors: Pit Bukowski, Katharina Leonore Goebel, Gina Haller, Max Roenneberg, David Hugo Schmitz

Frau Stern (Ahuva Sommerfeld) faces the audience and announces she wants to die. That's how the film starts. We watch how a mentally and physically remarkably fit 90-year-old widow and Holocaust survivor attempts to make her wish come true. The situations she gets herself into and the circumstances of her repeated rescues are nothing less than bizarre—but also nothing more. It's not comedy like the trailer for the film suggests. Not only "bad luck" is torpedoing Frau Stern's plans. Acquaintances and family worried for her wellbeing try to stop her as well; foremost Elli (Kara Schröder), who has a special bond with her grandmother. She tries to cheer her up by including her in activities with her hip friends.

The film has a striking cast of (yet) unknown performers, unusual locations in Berlin, an interesting soundtrack (Konstantin Schimanowski) and experimental camerawork—but unfortunately there is no direction. Several serious subjects are lightly touched upon; none have been explored with sincerity. Still, I would recommend people to judge for themselves and, if nothing else, appreciate those noteworthy features. (Carola A)

Second Opinion

Writer-director Anatol Schuster probes the meaning of life, and death, in Frau Stern. Gathering a likable female cast, Ahuva Sommerfeld as Frau Stern carries the film with her cigarette-raspy voice and twinkling-cum-evil eyes. Kara Schröder portrays Ellie, Stern’s savior-cum-enabler granddaughter; they learn from each other while sidestepping moral judgments. Nirit Sommerfeld has the cursory role of daughter-cum-mother. What Frau Stern’s days lack are contacts, and personal involvements. Hitting 90, she decides it is time to checkout. Yet, whenever she tries to help matters along, she is stymied. On the other hand, hanging out with Elli and friends is rejuvenating, and weakens her resolve. Her life, like her determination, oscillates between activities indoors and out, and she has a special affinity to affairs preordained in the stars.

Frau Stern envisages two white apparitions, which are unformulated within the context of the storyline and puzzling. Konstantin Schimanowski’s music, and the sound design are good. Although Frau Stern is labeled a comedy, with a trailer to match and only 79-minutes long, its humor is dampened by its plodding monotony. Some could compare the film to life, but then usually people go to movies to be entertained. (Marinell Haegelin)

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