Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Bad family relationships seem to be a theme running through this film festival (or else through my choice of films). The Home Song Stories, Children, After the Wedding and even These Girls and Red Road are about or include bad family relationships.

This time it is a family that doesn't talk to each other (a subject I'm familiar with). Konraad has decided to die on or about the anniversary of his wife's death and writes to his daughter Maria and granddaughter Sabine to tell them. Both women ignore the letters, which their respective husbands find and get concerned about. Both women stonewall their husbands carry on with their lives. Maria with the silent treatment, work and recovering from secret liposuction and Sabine by brushoffs and anger, work and an affair with her ex. Maria and Sabine are equally unconcerned (in Sabine's case hostile to) Sabine's sister Eva's mental problems and it is left to their husbands to try and deal with that too. Sabine and Otto's elder daughter is into breaking plates (and later chewing glassware) to protest her parent's arguing, while Otto's attempts to help his sister in law ends, predictably, in bed. Meanwhile Maria's dentist husband (who doesn't seem much younger than Konraad) is the only one to go and try to deal with him and original issue of his death wish.

This family clearly love each other but talking, showing emotion and dealing with issues before they become problems is foreign to them. Konraad's death finally brings all the family together but given that at the end of the film they still aren't talking it is not as hopeful a finale as you might think.

The filming is based around long fixed medium and long shots with the actors walking in and out of shot. This coupled with the lack of dialog makes 95 minutes feel like 3+ hours. It more than just makes the point of the film, it hammers it home so hard you feel like you are a living though it like a bad dream you can't wakeup from.

It is probably quite good if you like that sort of thing.

Ian's rating: 1/5

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