Longing is a Michael Haneke-lite wank job, though before being cannibalized by its intellectual pretensions, German writer-director Valeska Grisebach’s intimate tale of small-town infidelity maintains some level of interest for the vivid ways in which it sketches in its particular milieu. It’s never entirely clear why volunteer firefighter Markus (Andreas Müller), seemingly in a happy marriage with wife Ella (Ilka Welz), begins an affair with a young waitress named Rose (Anett Dornbusch). Grisebach is fond of oblique intimation: Does the car crash that opens the film drive Markus into Rose’s arms, or is it, along with the movie proper, meant to be taken purely on the level of indirect observation? An extended, single-take close-up of Markus, eyes closed, swaying in druggy ecstasy to Robbie Williams’s “Feel” suggests the latter, but Grisebach’s hand is decidedly unsteady; the frequently shaky camerawork seems less an aesthetic choice than a byproduct of an authorial lack of confidence. Grisebach has an eye for lived-in faces and locales, especially apparent in the few sequences where the central love triangle is backgrounded in favor of suburban rigamarole, but the soullessness of the film’s point-by-point narrative structure undercuts these complicated pleasures. The final nail in the coffin: Longing’s childishly didactic climax, which reduces all that we have just witnessed to the literal level of playground fabulism.
- 88 min
- Valeska Grisebach
- Valeska Grisebach
- Andres Müller, Ilka Welz, Anett Dornbusch, Erika Lemke, Markus Werner, Doritha Richter, Detlef Baumann, Ilse Lausch, Harald Kuchenbecker
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