Directed by Maren Ade. Germany. 2003.



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Ade's graduation piece which I first saw at the 2005 Cambridge Film Festival, gets a limited release in Britain at which I am somewhat surprised about.  If you read my review of the film during my Cambridge review of this website you would be equally so.   

The film charts the story of Melanie, a young teacher who moves from the countryside to a surburban school halfway through the school year and the turmoil she quickly encounters.  Melanie denies access from a would be male companion and instead pursues a friendship with a female neighbour and owner of a boutique shop.  Melanie because of her introverted nature and quiet background, she struggles in the city and slower becomes more insular and negative in her approach, and the quieter she becomes the louder her classes become and her control diminished.  Melanie continues to pursue the female friendship but ultimately alienates her from that as well.   

Here in lies the problem with the picture, we should have sympathy for the character but instead we feel negative about her and ourselves feel alienated by her actions.  The film is shot on digital video which itself might lend to the alienating factor. 

This is not to say I do not appreciate the lead performance by Eve Lobeau who carries the film, grabs our attention and slowly regresses back to her wanted childhood.  The ending is kind of implosion upon Melanie's feelings and it creeps upon you without realising.  The film is 81 minutes long, short but a strenuous watch all the same. 

Jamie Garwood
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