Four Minutes

Four Minutes

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Though not to be confused with Madonna’s new single, Four Minutes is similarly built from cliché. What reads on paper like a genteel drama about an elderly piano teacher trying to train a young convict at a woman’s penitentiary plays like a horror film, almost as if writer-director Chris Kraus were trying to get his aggressions out for not having been pegged to direct the latest remake of a Wes Craven grindhouser. Suggesting The Page Turner or The L-Shaped Room as helmed by Alexandre Aja, this fuzzy psychological profile coasts on ominous tone. With an iron fist, Traude Krüger (Robert Englund, err, Monica Bleibtreu) works on Jenny von Loeben (Hannah Herzsprung), chipping away at the girl’s foul mood in the interest of revitalizing her talent—or as a means of vicariously reliving the joy she experienced frolicking in the woods during the war. No matter how close the camera gets on Krüger and her lover in the film’s flashbacks, there’s no confusing the two for a heterosexual couple, and still Kraus seems to operate under the delusion that the woman’s coming-out is as much a shock to the audience as it is to Jenny. Krüger is essentially a stereotype of a lesbian as an old maid, one who has problems with “negro music” but employs ex-cons to haul her master piano in and out the penitentiary. Except for a gratuitous incest angle, everything happens in fours throughout the film, for reasons as mysterious as the perpetually moist streets or the manner in which Kraus’s camera scurries through hallways, zooms out of scenes, and saunters around Krüger’s master piano as if it were about to stumble upon two girls bumping uglies in a dark corner somewhere. In short, a pageant of empty, wonton style.

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DVD
Distributor
Autobahn
Runtime
112 min
Rating
NR
Year
2006
Director
Chris Kraus
Screenwriter
Chris Kraus
Cast
Monica Bleibtreu, Hannah Herzsprung, Sven Pippig, Richy Müller, Jasmin Tabatabai, Stefan Kurt, Vadim Glowna,Nadja Uhl, Peter Davor, Edita Malovčić, Kathrin Kestler