Christian Petzold (Transit; Phoenix) returns with this multilayered, serio-comic portrait of a sulky writer struggling with his second novel at his friend’s summer cottage. Leon (Thomas Schubert) is stuck inside his head most of the time. So much so, he’s not really alive to what’s going on around him, except in as much as it effects him negatively. Luckily his pal Felix is the easy going sort. Leon is especially put out to find that they’re going to be sharing the cottage with a stranger, Nadja (Paula Beer), who turns out to be lovely, which is even more annoying…
This is a distinct change of pace from Petzold’s recent work, albeit it’s the second in an elemental trilogy after the watery fable, Undine. The fires here are anything but metaphorical: the forests are ablaze close enough to the cottage to deter tourists and close some roads, if not to concern Leon unduly. Peevish and insecure, he is his own worst enemy — even he knows it. He uses an impending deadline to have a thoroughly miserable time, without actually accomplishing much in the way of solid work. (Who can relate?) When his publisher visits to work with him on the manuscript matters come to a head, and all the movie’s sharp nuances fall into place.
Immaculate… casually crisp… rawly funny… It’s the film’s great, disorienting structural risks, its humoring of human untidiness and confusion, that make it so subtly thrilling and moving.
Guy Lodge, Variety
A masterpiece. Christian Petzold is one of the great directors of this young century.
Jordan Raup, The Film Stage
An entertainment with spark and philosophical insight — and a reminder that, as we contemplate apocalypse, we’d better learn to start understanding each other, and ourselves, a little more.
Jonathan Romney, Financial Times
Thomas Schubert, Paula Beer, Enno Trebs, Langston Uibel, Matthias Brandt
In German with English subtitles
Silver Bear Grand Jury Prize, Berlin Film Festival
Florian Koerner von Gustorf, Michael Weber, Anton Kaiser
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