This is not for everyone; it is a film that is in no hurry to tell its story. Starting out with Tamara (Irina Potapenko), a prostitute, making graphic love with her boyfriend Alex (Johannes Krisch), there is a substantial amount of nudity in the first fifteen minutes, causing a few people at my showing (not a screening) to walk out. That was their loss because as this film progresses, it gets deeper and deeper.
Writer/director Götz Spielmann doesn’t hit you over the head with what he is trying to say. Instead, you have to pay attention and grasp the nuance of the story.
The film shows the hopelessness of foreign prostitutes, who are virtual prisoners in their brothels. Alex wants to get Tamara out and has a plan to rob a bank and escape. This sets in motion events that neither of them could anticipate, and brings depth to the tale that I certainly wasn’t anticipating.
I don’t want to give away the story but the performance of Ursula Strauss, who plays Susanne, the wife of policeman Robert (Andreas Lust), is what sets this film apart from the usual thriller. Spielmann has penned a complex character that, along with her husband, Robert, turn Alex’s life, and his perception of what has occurred and what he wants to do, completely around. But there’s more to Susanne than meets the eye, and more in this movie than what happened to Alex.
The film is marred by the usual lack of technical expertise that mars most foreign films, the extreme difficulty in reading subtitles that are the same color as the background. The dialogue in this movie is extremely important but often it’s such a strain to try to read same-color subtitles that what is said is missed. That’s a shame. How can moviemakers have such remarkable special effects that they can create a black hole on the screen but can’t figure out how to change the color of subtitles so they contrast enough with the background to be readable?
That said, kudos to cinematographer Martin Gschlacht, who doesn’t leave a nipple uncovered in the entire movie. Also, Krisch displays a talent for log-splitting, exhibiting admirable hand-eye coordination. I’ve split logs and it’s not as easy as it looks.
American audiences, weaned on action-packed, special effects-laden nonsense like the “Spiderman” and the “X-Men” simplicities which are aimed at an intellect that hasn’t yet achieved high school levels, might find this hard to stomach because it requires concentration, thought and reason. But if you’re willing to actually do these three skills, this is a rewarding movie. (In German and Russian.)