Dir\scr: Henner Winckler. Ger. 2006.92mins.

The second feature from German director Henner Winckler, Lucy is a psychologically lucid,beguiling portrait of teenage restriction given a startling jolt of recognitionand star-making turn by German actress Kim Schnitzer.

The story examines theemotional and personal consequences of the title character, eight-month-old Lucy(Hauschild), on her emotionally ill-equipped youngmother Maggy (Schnitzer).

It almost feels like acompanion piece to the Dardenne brothers' Palme d'Or-winning L'Enfant, thoughit is far less depressing and fatalistic in its social implications. Possibly amore compelling and emotionally accurate comparison would be Benoit Jacquot'sA Single Girl, which made aninternational star of Virginie Ledoyen.

Like Ledoyen,Schnitzer is a natural who uses dramaticallyrevealing gestures, disciplined actions and physical inflections to deepencharacter and action. The camera is drawn to her thin frame, wary eyes andstubborn nervousness, which all combine to brilliantly evoke the pain,confusion and unsettled interior life of young female consciousness.

After its internationalpremiere in Forum at the Berlinale, Lucy ought to have a strong presence onthe festival circuit, and should play very well at home and otherGerman-speaking territories. Beyond home it could work for hip, upscaleaudiences.

Following a brief prologuethat shows Maggy ending the relationship with Lucy'sfather, the story follows the young school dropout as she cares for her daughterand lives with her own mother, Eva (Aladag).

Out with her friends at ahip club, Maggy makes an immediate connection with abartender, Gordon (Schmidt), a charming, confident, slightly older man. Shequickly surrenders to his ease and comfort, and the two begin a relationship.

Maggy is eventually forced to admit she is Lucy's mother. Ratherthan fleeing, Gordon is supportive and trusting, and invites the young motherand daughter to move in with him.

But their bliss provestemporary, and the emotional demands of caring for Lucy creates conflicts anddisappointments that complicate their relationship and increasingly leave Maggy isolated, wounded and defensive.

This is all sharp, bruisingand direct stuff, allowed a direct, searing honesty through Schnitzer'sunvarnished, revelatory performance.

Winckler and his talented cinematographer, Christine A Maier,shot the movie in Super 16, and the blow-up creates a rough, unstable textureand grain that captures the uncertain mood and sense of physical disruption.

Production companies
Schramm Film Koerner and Weber
ZDF Das kleine Fernsehspiel
BKM Kulturelle Filmforderungdes Bundes
Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg
Piffl Medien

International sales
Schramm Film Koerner AndWeber

Florian Koerner Von Gustorf
Michael Weber

Henner Winckler
Stefan Kriekhaus

Christine A Maier

Production design
Reinhild Blaschke

Bettina Bohler

Main cast
Kim Schnitzer
Gordon Schmidt
Feo Aladag
Polly Hauschild
Ninjo Borth
Ganeshi Becks
Klara Manzel