Opening 30 Jul 2009
Hanna (Marie Bäumer) and Thomas (Milan Peschel) decide to buy a lonely home out in the country in an idyllic setting by a small lake where it is very peaceful and quiet. Surrounded by nature and in love, they begin to renovate the house in their own way, reflecting the character of each. Thomas’ approach of just smashing the wall to put in a door only leads him to discover, to his dismay, that it is not so easy as brute force and enthusiasm; technical guidance is a necessity. In comes his brother (Andre Hennicke), who happens to be an architect, and is momentarily going through some personal difficulties as he has lost his job and his wife and kids have left him. Thus, he arrives to stay for a while. At the same time, Hanna’s godchild (Anna Brüggemann) comes to visit, albeit she is no longer the little girl they remembered but has blossomed into an easy going and care free young woman. During this time period, it is Hanna’s birthday and her father comes to celebrate with his finely manicured younger Russian girlfriend.
The movie is short on action but the monologues are deep and thought provoking. The short conversations and long pauses in between allow for one to process and ponder upon the deeper meaning. Amid presumptions, misinterpretations and misunderstandings, an emotional storm is unleashed. The actions and reactions give us a glimpse into the relationship dynamics between people, and the unspoken interactions guide us into their world. The configuration of the four people changes as they dance to their own accord, tempted by fate. Will the partnership of these complex figures stay intact after this week? One walks away with a convoluted feeling of understanding and not understanding the complexity of desire. It depicts how an everyday life constellation of people can become a tangled and volatile mix. A film with a definite European flair.
Director and screenplay writer Sebastian Schipper based this film on Goethe’s novel Die Wahlverwandtschaften written in 1809. He says “we don’t only want what we know, we are what we know.” Cameraman Frank Blau excels at capturing the natural lighting and portraying it in a sensual manner, especially the dawns and dusks in the countryside. Furthermore, the British musician Vic Chesnutt creates sublime music for this film. After leaving the cinema, the movie stays with you as food for thought and reflection. (Coppelia Hays Branscheid)