Dir: Jan Bonny. Ger. 2007. 96 mins.
A study in midlife crisis verging on pathologic hysteria, Jan Bonny's debut may be of some interest to sympathetic psychoanalysts dealing in Freudian hang-ups but won't go far with audiences at large, who are bound to lose their patience with the two leading characters long before they do it themselves.
Looking and feeling very much like a typical TV movie, it will not tarry long before reaching its destination.
Georg (Brandt), a policeman, and Anne (Trauttsmandorff), a school teacher, are supposed to be an average, happily married lower middle-class couple. At least that seems to be the impression they impart for a while on the rest of the characters in the film.
But the audience knows better from the very first time they meet each other on the screen. Anne's temper is unleashed already in the early sequences, a crescendo of enraged paroxysms follows and the hostilities aren't appeased as the film draws to an end, though the last frame suggests a brief lull in action after a particularly strenuous session.
Georg's meek, ingratiating nature, avoiding confrontations both at home and at work where he is almost willing to pass up promotion in favour of an insistent colleague who wants it more, drives Anne berserk.
Already suffering from an acute inferiority complex, fuelled by her father's sneering attitude to her and her marriage, fearing she is not appreciated at her true value, she feels her husband is a hopeless loser, and the failure of her extreme and violent attempts to goad him into some kind of reaction push her somewhere close to the edge, if not actually over it.
All this looks more like a textbook case in need of urgent therapy rather than a script begging to be adapted. There is never more than a flat perception of the two main characters and reason for empathy with either one of them. If it is not difficult to understand the gall raised by Georg's passive conduct; it is practically impossible to feel for Anne, who is painted as a full-blown harpy. Her problems may be authentic enough, but few would be willing to go along and solve them, as there is nothing very promising waiting to be found behind her angry outbursts and flying fists.
Neither one of the two performers manages to infuse a deeper dimension to the roles they play. Handheld camera moving nervously often far too close to give the characters any space to develop in, and restless montage, contribute to the unsettling mood prevailing all through the film, but irritating the audience cannot be a purpose with itself.
Christina E belt
Wotan Wilke Mohring
Pablo Ben Yaakov