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The Crack Magazine

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Director: Christian Petzold

Stars: Thomas Schubert, Paula Beer, Langston Uibel, Enno Trebs, Matthias Brandt

German-writer director Petzold continues to work through the elements with this more grounded and tartly enjoyable follow-up to aquatic fable ‘Undine’. Leon (Schubert) is an author who has left Berlin to stay in a small woodland cottage on the Baltic Sea to finesse his second, troublesome novel. He is accompanied by his more laid-back art student friend Felix (Uibel) whose mother owns the cottage they will be staying in. A car breakdown necessitates a twelve kilometre walk and the already irritable Leon is agitated further when he discovers that they will be sharing the place with a young woman whose presence Felix’s mother had failed to mention. The men do not actually meet her in the first two days of their stay, but hear her lovemaking, and her kitchen mess is noted by the peevish Leon. She is the wily, self-confident Nadja (Beer) and her presence there disrupts the men’s attempts to work. Meanwhile, news reports indicate a forest fire approaching. This is an exceptionally well-played chamber piece and comedy of manners, which takes in musings on art, sex and class, and Schubert is great as the petulant pretentious Leon, locating a real pathos in his vain insistence to be taken seriously, most tragically realised in a sequence when Nadja’s lifeguard lover Devid (Trebs) is invited to dinner and grills Leon about his beliefs. It also works as a wider allegory as the characters bicker, swim, and fuck, all but oblivious to the encroaching danger, until matters take a darker turn in the third act.

David Willoughby

Follow David on Twitter @DWill_Crackfilm