© Reverse Angle/Neue Visionen

The House is Burning
Germany 2006

Opening 16 Nov 2006

Directed by: Holger Ernst
Writing credits: Holger Ernst
Principal actors: John Diehl, Melissa Leo, Julianne Michelle, Robin Taylor, Harley Adams

We experience 24 hours in the pitiful lives of poor white American teenagers. Joe has volunteered for the Armed Forces, although his father died in Viet Nam. His girlfriend Valerie has reserved Phil to keep her warm in Joe’s absence. Phil needs $2000 for a drug deal. Terry sleeps her way to a real job. Steve buys a gun to shoot his abusive father. All come together at Joe’s going-away party. In the end, five are dead or hospitalized. No one has learned from mistakes or shows any promise of a bright future. They will muddle on until despondent old age. Probably the most interesting fact is that the director is a young German from Kassel: Holger Ernst. He filmed in the U.S. with relatively unknown American actors speaking English (Joe Petrilla, Nicole, Vicius, Robin Taylor, Julianne Michelle). I found the film to be an exceedingly arrogant German take on Americans. He lived there 1992-94, but only delivers clichés, such as putting the trappings of Christianity into the homes (church, pictures of Christ) and having everyone smoke and say fuck. Why not make a similar but more truthful film about teenagers in his own country, perhaps in Hamburg or Berlin? In the end, it’s all been said much better before, such as in the film 11:14. Herr Ernst should think about making soap operas. (Becky Tan)

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