The Phoenix Network:
About  |  Advertise
Features  |  Reviews

Review: Dreileben

TV trilogy from three German directors
By PETER KEOUGH  |  January 10, 2012
2.5 2.5 Stars

Taking a cue from Kieslowski's Three Colors by way of the British Red Riding series, this TV trilogy from three German directors of the Berlin School starts out with a creepy aura of dread and mystery and ends with contrived and unsatisfying resolutions. Each film is set in the title town, an isolated burg in Thuringia, once part of the former East Germany and a place haunted by the ghosts of the past and the monsters of legend, from witch hunts centuries ago to the more recent tragedies of the Third Reich and the Communist era.

These events — mythic, historic, personal, and usually traumatic — are layered like the peeling wallpaper in the house being renovated by a character in the middle film of the series, Dominik Graf's Don't Follow Me Around. Appropriately, the narratives of the three films are similarly stratified, with overlapping points-of view, a non-linear chronology, and seeming digressions that prove important as the story progresses.

The first film, Christian Petzold's Beats Being Dead, is the best. In it, Johannes (Jacob Matschenz), a gifted medical student from a modest background, works as an intern at the local hospital. He's torn between ex-flame Sarah (Vijessna Ferkic), the daughter of his boss, who's the top doctor at the hospital and a wealthy nabob of the community, and Ana (Luna Mijovic), a Bosnian immigrant working at a hotel. Sarah appeals to Johannes's ambition but is aloof and vapid, and Ana is sensuous and spontaneous, but as becomes increasingly clear, manipulative and unstable.

Meanwhile a manhunt for Molesch (Stefan Kurt), an unhinged convicted murderer, intensifies, and the background menace of that story, developed further in the subsequent films, infuses Beats Being Dead with the uncanniness of a Grimm's fairy tale. Little of that atmosphere survives the climactic film, Christoph Hochhäusler One Minute of Darkness, told from the point of view of the generically psychopathic Molesch, which plays like an episode of CSI.

Related: Review: Heaven + Earth + Joe Davis, Review: Straw Dogs, Review: Happy Feet Two, More more >
  Topics: Reviews , Boston, things to do, brief,  More more >
| More

 Friends' Activity   Popular   Most Viewed 
[ 01/29 ]   American Idiot  @ Opera House
[ 01/29 ]   As You Like It  @ Loeb Drama Center
[ 01/29 ]   Bread and Puppet Theater  @ Cyclorama
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   REVIEW: A SEPARATION  |  January 26, 2012
    Somehow, despite an increasingly repressive regime that has jailed many prominent filmmakers, including the world renowned auteur Jafar Panahi, Iranian cinema continues to produce some of the world's subtlest and most illuminating films about the relationships between men and women, and the conflicts inherent in all social units, starting with the family.
  •   REVIEW: CRAZY HORSE  |  January 24, 2012
    In La Danse — The Paris Opera Ballet , Frederick Wiseman looked behind the scenes at a revered dance institution. In his new documentary he examines a dance institution of a different sort, the cabaret bar of the title, a Parisian pop-cultural icon and tourist mecca dedicated to artistically ambitious "nude chic" dancing.
  •   REVIEW: MAN ON A LEDGE  |  January 26, 2012
    Pablo F. Fenjves might not be Sidney Lumet, but his clever if absurd heist film does acknowledge its debt to the late, politically inclined director's Dog Day Afternoon .
  •   REVIEW: YOUNG GOETHE IN LOVE  |  January 19, 2012
    In Philipp Stölzl's fanciful portrait of the artist as a young scamp, the future genius (Alexander Fehling) introduces himself as "Goethe with an 'oe'," earning a reputation as a pratfalling screw-up.
  •   REVIEW: 2011 ART HOUSE PROJECT SHORTS PROGRAM  |  January 18, 2012
    Short films are the art of omission, and those in this outstanding Sundance program transform non-sequiturs into surreal poetry.

 See all articles by: PETER KEOUGH

RSS Feed of for the most popular articles
 Most Viewed   Most Emailed