Saturday, December 11, 2010

Movie of
the Month:
Part 23

I recently
the follow-
ing film for
Video Lib-
, and
thought the results were worth sharing.

(Maren Ade, Germany, 2009, 119 mins.)

A German couple watches their relationship crumble in Maren
carefully observed pas de deux. On holiday in the Medi-
terranean, they seem happy enough as they loll about his moth-
er's pool and play Willie Nelson and Herbert Grönemeyer LPs.

Gitti (Birgit Minichmayr), an outspoken music publicist, and
Chris (Lars Eidinger), a retiring architectural student, argue
like most people, and Chris worries about a design competi-
tion, but things could be worse. Early on, Gitti tells her in-
secure mate that she finds him "completely beautiful."

Mostly the two talk, which lends the film a French feel, until
they run into Hans (Hans Jochen-Wagner), an avuncular archi-
tect, and his pregnant wife Sana (Nicole Marischka), a fashion
designer, neighbors who appear to be a few years older. Chris
has been trying to avoid them, but he agrees to come over
for a barbecue, though Gitti would rather go boating.

Things get off to a good start until Hans lectures Chris about
his slow-moving career. Gitti tells him she finds that patroniz-
ing, which embarrasses her boyfriend. After that, their bicker-
ing accelerates, despite Gitti's attempts at romantic gestures,
like a hillside picnic. Chris wants her to "act normally," but his
increasingly judgmental demeanor makes her uncomfortable.

Further encounters with Hans and Sana deepen the divide. In
the end, Ade leaves it up to viewers to decide whether Gitti has
emotional problems or whether Chris is making her sick. Though
the film has elicited comparisons to L'Avventura and Scenes from
a Marriage
, it has more in common with the earthy theatricality
of Bergman than the existential ennui of Antonioni, though Sardi-
nia's rugged terrain does, at times, recall Sicily. Extra features
include deleted scenes, interviews, a short film, and an essay
from Cinema Scope editor Mark Peranson. Recommended.

Click here for Movie of the Month, Part 22: The Oath

Endnote: I'm sorry to say that Ade's second film, after The
Forest for the Trees
, did not open in Seattle. Slightly revised
from the original text. Image from indieWIRE/Cinema Guild.

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