I was super disappointed with this movie for the first hour and a half, but I think the last half an hour really salvaged the film for me. I think in some ways the film was really trying to repudiate the current state of capitalism but didn’t dislike capitalism overall. However, it wasn’t until the last half an hour that I think the movie inadvertently pushed a communist or socialist agenda.
The first half an hour with Jan and Jule was so frustratingly heterosexual and dumb that I had trouble getting through it. I mean, it’s mostly the writers faults, in that Jule was about as one-dimensional a character as you could possibly write for a woman, but it’s not like Jan’s character was all that much better. After watching Goodbye Lenin! just the other day, this movie’s script was so lacking that it was cringe worthy to watch on many levels. I think the movie spent too much time on the love stories, and even though I still think it pays off in the end, I really didn’t enjoy how much of the movie was canoodling. It may be a fan favorite, but just not with me. I think the point of the film was not to say that the youth were always right, or smart, or clever, but to show that the problem is that we stop rebelling. At some point, we stop analyzing our own actions and simply become the things we used to hate the most. What’s too bad is that we spent almost an hour and half to just get to that point. The rest of it is really frustrating. I mean, the inciting incident of the film is the three main characters deciding to kidnap the rich man after he catches them in the act. But geez, there’s way too much of a romance build-up until then. I just really felt as though the editor could have cut the film by at least 30 minutes.
The scenes with Jule at her job seem superfluous too. I know it sounds bad, but this film tried to sort of break away from a regular three act structure in run time, but I don’t think the ends justify the means. There’s too much film spent on ideas that seem irrelevant by the end of the film.
The look of this film definitely didn’t impress me, but there were a few wonderful wilderness shots worth noting near the cabin, as well as the opening sequence, which might have been the best part of the film cinematically.
The style is a lot like, Lola Rennt but that film had some amazing crane shots that elevated the piece, whereas this film sort of went all out in the first few minutes and then never really returned. I mean, that was definitely a choice to illustrate even the different kinds of lives the main three had from the rich, but I almost wish that the countryside’s beauty had been more stressed to push that point home. Especially with Jule’s earlier quote to Jan when she said how she wanted to be unattached to things, to be wild and free.
I think that rightfully so, a lot of the movie is spent getting the four main characters to relate to each other, and to create that feeling of safety for the audience. There’s a strong sense of unease, at the idea of harboring an unwilling man, but over the body of the film, he becomes less and less like a prisoner, more like a companion. It’s meant to be clear that when we are the farthest away from society, we are all equal, we help each other, and it’s rules and culture that get in the way of all that. That’s why the end is so much sadder. The audience has come to see the rich “bad” guy as a friend, who lies for the youth, who seems to genuinely have thought about their motives. He knows they haven’t hurt him in any way. It was definitely a horrible thing to do, but we’re made to feel safe in his presence as a character. However as soon as he’s back in the bubble that made him “bad” to begin with, he returns to his old ways and seemingly learns nothing from the whole experience.
There’s a really great Phil Ochs song from ‘65 called “Love me, I’m a Liberal” that I think really sums up the entire plot of the movie in one verse:
“Sure, once I was young and impulsive; I wore every conceivable pin,
Even went to Socialist meetings, learned all the old Union hymns.
Ah, but I’ve grown older and wiser, and that’s why I’m turning you in.
So love me, love me, love me, I’m a liberal.”
But what really works with the end of the film, is that the characters stop being so literal in their existence, and quickly become metaphors or representatives for the rest of the restless population. They agree that feelings don’t really matter in their movement. The most important thing is to work together and stay together. This is really pushed home by the last shot of the three of them together in bed, surrounded by white, peacefully sleeping.
The movie just wasn’t “fancy” enough for me, I suppose. After seeing films like Goodbye Lenin! snd Run Lola, Run, as well as The Princess and the Warrior, this movie seemed flat. Those films all were a bit grunge-y at times, with shots being grainy, or dirty. However, they each had several parts, if not the majority of the film, respectively, that was intentionally well thought out shot-wise, and beautiful in those designed shots. The writing as well was clunky, as the dialogue was thick at many times, leaving the viewer behind. The acting definitely holds up the best, which makes sense as there’s so much crossover from Goodbye Lenin! where the acting really impressed me. I think the end made the entire movie, but the payoff just didn’t make the rest of the film come alive as a piece of art by itself.