Film Review: Everyone Else

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Berlin International Film Festival -- Competition
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BERLIN -- This delicious, acutely observed dissection of the mercurial emotional and psychological ties between two young lovers comes to us from 32-year-old German director Maren Ade, whose first feature film, "The Forest for the Trees," won a special jury award at Sundance in 2005.

Some might find the pacing a little slow, but patient viewers will be amply rewarded by the truth of the details this talented director has amassed over the course of the film's two-hour running time.

If handled correctly by a smaller, more hands-on distributor in the U.S., "Everyone Else" has modest commercial potential, and should do even better on DVD and other ancillary venues when the word spreads. All festival programrs owe themselves a serious look.

Gitti (Birgit Minichmayr), a not-too-serious publicist for an unknown rock band, and Chris (Lars Eidinger), a brilliant architect who hasn't yet actually gotten anything built, seem to be ideally suited for one another. They romp joyfully in Chris' family's villa in Sardinia and the tiny veracities of their life together demonstrate either that director Ade is gifted with a hyper-fertile imagination or else that she's actually already lived these things herself. The couple subsequently meets another couple, Hans and Sana, and the resulting complexities strain their already volatile relationship.

Everything in this film seems new, yet at the same time, completely recognizable and completely right. During the first hour, Gitti and Chris play creatively, make love, have quarrels, and make love some more. Gitti, at least at first, seems the more insecure of the two, and is bothered that Chris never says "I love you" when they're having sex. The intensity of observation reminds one of Bergman's "Scenes From a Marriage," though of course played in a much more benign key. For the patient, the deliberate pacing is perfect, as each additional layer is quietly and subtly put in place.

The second half of the film revolves around their interactions with Hans, a more successful architect than Chris, and Sana, an artist. Fifteen minutes could easily be trimmed from this section, yet it's precisely here that the film moves away from the investigation of the couple, per se, toward a barely visible yet trenchant critique of class. Although they don't have much to show for it, Gitti and Chris, like the couple in the recent American film "Revolutionary Road" (a much less subtle work) are convinced that they are special, that their good taste and apparently deep understanding of everything and everybody far exceeds that of "everyone else," including Hans and Sana.

At the very end of the film, Ade pushes her luck and feints in a direction that not every viewer is going to appreciate and one that will leave all the others scratching their heads. But she's so obviously gifted and so preternaturally observant that most of them will allow her the benefit of the doubt nevertheless.

Production: Komplizen Film
Cast: Birgit Minichmayr, Lars Eidinger, Hans-Jochen Wagner, Nicole Marischka
Director-screenwriter: Maren Ade
Producer: Janine Jackowski, Dirk Engelhardt, Maren Ade
Director of photography: Bernhard Keller
Production designer: Silke Fischer, Volko Kamensky, Jochen Dehn
Costume designer: Gitti Fuchs
Editor: Heike Parplies
Sales: Prokino

No rating, 119 minutes
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