A German-language film directed by Michael Haneke set in a farming community in pre-WWI period. Shot beautifully in stark black and white it tells the story of a small village dependent on the landowner and focusing on him as well as the local pastor and the local teacher.
One of those tales that shows a community that is initially rather idealistic-looking but as we spend more time increasingly reveals the cracks in the facade and the suspicion and the evil that have taken root and perpetrate.
It has a good, dark mood to the first half of the film and deals with repression, denial, punishment and paedophobia, but also has some very tender moments. As the story continues it gets increasingly coarse with its interactions (bar one strand) but doesn’t really reach any new conclusions. There are some beautiful sequences and two scenes in particular that will stay with me for different reasons (the schoolteacher and Eva on the horse drawn cart is one and the Doctor in his examining room is another) but I can’t say I feel any the wiser after the film, that I saw much new or that I felt challenged or provoked by it. The assumptions I made on the film’s path from the first scene were largely correct.
Beautifully shot with a few great scenes but on the whole a little dull and with not a lot to say.
3 on 5
Directed by: Michael Haneke
Starring: Christian Friedel, Ernst Jacobi, Leonie Benesch, Ulrich Tukur, Ursina Lardi, Fion Mutert, Michael Kranz, Burghart Klaußner, Steffi Kühnert
UK Release: 13th November 2009