Dir:Valeska Grisebach. Germany.2006. 88 mins
Astory of ordinary love in a defiantly non-glamorous mode, Valeska Grisebach's Longing packs a formidable emotional punch, all the moreso for its spare aesthetic and sure-footed restraint. The director's secondfeature, following 2001's acclaimed Be My Star (Mein Stern), thrives on elliptical storytelling andundemonstratively subtle performances from non-professional leads. Its low-keynaturalism may not appeal to all tastes, but Longing is a major find for festivals and an intriguingprospect for specialised sales.
Setin a village in the Berlin area, Longing is a portrait of love, marriage and heartbreak - big themes in a small,mundane milieu. Markus (Mueller) is a welder and volunteer fireman happily marriedto Ella (Welz), who sings in the local choir; the pair, in their 30s, share apassionate, sexually charged attachment. A chance incident
Eventsmove towards a drastic conclusion, as startling in its way as a comparable turnin a Michael Haneke film. But then Grisebach boldly switches mood in the coda,in which a group of local children comment on the story, wrapping up on a notethat's both ambivalent and surprisingly upbeat.
Muchof the film, dealing with domestic life and the routines of work andsocialising