Monday, January 24, 2011

Currently available on DVD: "Everyone Else"

Slow-moving and sly, Everyone Else, from the German director Maren Ade, dissects a relationship between a man and a woman on vacation in Sardinia in ways that are both stunningly perceptive and a little frightening, too.

Chris (Lars Eidinger) is a talented but still struggling architect whose mother has lent him her house in the rocky hills of the idyllic Italian isle. Gitti (Birgit Minichmayr) is a music-biz publicist who comes across as flaky, a little off. For the first half of Ade's sharply observed piece, the young couple eat, sleep, make love, argue, reconcile, argue, reconcile. Like a German mumblecore film, not much happens. There is a lot of talk and a lot of silence, and deep, conflicting emotions are revealed.

And then, after a visit from a successful architect (Hans-Jochen Wagner) and his wife, an equally successful designer (Nicole Marischka), the fissures begin to crack wide open. While some of the tension between Chris and Gitti has to do with class and background (he's better educated, more sophisticated, can speak Italian), the real dissonance comes out of the opposing desires and expectations each harbors for the other.

In a sense, Everyone Else traces, over a stretch of days on the sunny Mediterranean, the whole trajectory of a relationship. It's a marriage in miniature: courtship, consummation, conflict; love and hate; the longing for freedom vs. the need for companionship.

Everyone Else takes a few small, strange turns toward the end, but the turns feel truthful. And Eidinger and Minichmayr are so thoroughly inside their characters' skins that the experience of watching them begins to feel more like voyeurism than cinema.

This is a film that will surely try the patience of some, but there's wisdom here: jagged shards of wisdom, at the very least.

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